Posts Tagged ‘manila

10
Feb
14

MANILA | NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES REVISITED

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I don’t know when did the National Museum of the Philippines start offering FREE ADMISSION EVERY SUNDAY that seduced me effortlessly to revisit. What’s definite is the fact that Philippine art, history, culture and heritage are now made more accessible to everyone regardless of economic status. Apparently, Filipinos, particularly those living within the vicinity of the museum in Manila, have no more excuse or logical reason not to pay the National Museum a visit, at least on a Sunday when entrance fees are waived. During weekdays, current rates are PhP 150 for adults, PhP 120 for senior citizens and even discounted price for students. Goodness, if you can avail of a venti cup of Frappuccino from Starbucks with a steeper cost, why not spend it to appreciate timeless paintings and handsome sculptures? Unless you don’t value what needs to be treasured.

Pardon me, but it’s such a shame for Filipinos who have seen the Modern Monument exhibit in Museum of Modern Art in New York City, or perhaps, those Pinoys who have been to Paris to visit La Jaconde or the Mona Lisa in Louvre Museum but have never set foot in National Museum to appreciate Una Bulaqueña by Juan Luna or his larger than life, Spoliarium.

Last Sunday, 09 February 2014 was my third visit to the National Museum. Frankly, I don’t have vivid recall of how our educational field trip during my Elementary school years went at that place, but I documented my second time in Pambansang Museo ng Pilipinas on this same blog in 2009 (blog post : http://docgelo.com/2009/05/18/manila-explored-part-2/). Although I cringed a bit after going through that blog entry once more, as blurred photos uploaded were taken only using my Nokia phone with 2 megapixels back then, I’m proud now that I visited the museum again and surprisingly, the staff at the counter instructed me to bring all my gadgets, wallet and other valuables, plus camera with me and leave only my backpack to claim prior exit.

With refurbished galleries and new acquisitions, I was impressed with all the positive changes. Unlike my past visits, taking photos is allowed now except for commercial purposes, but the use of flash photography is still prohibited (no problem with me).  Looking back, I could say that through the years, my blogging and my amateur photography have improved incidentally, in parallel with the National Museum.

The Old House of Representatives Session Hall, also known as, “The Hall of Masters” at the ground floor immediately after the counter where visitors must sign (and pay during weekdays) upon entry, a new art installation-in-progress greets everyone. It’s a lovely masterpiece called, Angel, from the Philippine National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Tolentino.

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Details of  “Angel” (reinforced concrete, 2.9 meters in height) by Guillermo Tolentino.

Inside the hall are two most significant works of Filipino artists in our history – Spoliarium of Juan Luna and El Asesinator Del Gobernador Bustamante by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo.

If there’s one reason to visit the National Museum, it’s to see and admire Juan Luna’s Spoliarium. This incredible Filipino treasure won the first gold medal (out of three) in the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid.
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Details of  “Spoliarium” by Juan Luna, Oil on poplar, 400 cm × 700 cm (160 in × 280 in), 1884.

Spoliarium is more than a painting of dying gladiators being dragged off the arena; it’s the symbol of Filipino social, moral and political life according to no less than Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Philippines’ National Hero.

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Details of  “El Asesinator Del Gobernador Bustamante” by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo (1853-1913).

“…the fact remains that when Luna and Felix Resurrection Hidalgo won the top awards in the Madrid Exposition of 1884, they proved to the world that indios could, despite their supposed barbarian race, paint better than the Spaniards who colonized them.”  ~Ambeth R. Ocampo, “Rizal Without the Overcoat” 2000″

Almost all galleries’ doors have noteworthy knobs…

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Little details matter. I liked those door knobs. NM of course stands for National Museum.

As I arrived after 3:30PM and upon learning that the museum closes at 5, I regret the fact that I didn’t have much time to go through and absorb everything. Bear in mind that I only visited the National Art Gallery of the National Museum and passed up going to the other building (yes, your admission includes the entry to the other building) that houses Museum of the Filipino People (San Diego exhibit, Five Centuries of Maritime Trade Before the Arrival of the West, The Origin, Archaeological Treasures, and The Filipinos and Their Rich Cultural Heritage).  I became selective with the art galleries and only photographed what I fancy.

“Gallery I : Luis I. Ablaza Hall. Colonial Philippine religious art of the 17th to the 19th centuries, prominent among which is a retablo from the Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Dimiao, Bohol – a National Cultural Treasure – together with a selection of carved religious images (santos), reliefs and paintings.”

Don’t you just love the retro-feel of those black and white tiles against those red-orange walls? I do! They make the wooden displays stand out.

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Saint Francis and Santo Domingo by unknown artists, on wood, undated.

“Gallery III : Philippine art of the academic and romantic period, specifically of the last three decades of the 19th century, featuring specially Juan Luna and other key contemporaries….”

I call the Gallery III that houses Luna’s masterpieces, the green room.

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Next to Spoliarium, here are a few of Juan Luna’s works that I adore.
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Details of “Portrait of a Lady” by Juan Luna, Oil on wood, undated.

“Una Bulaqueña” of Juan Luna was the inspiration behind one of the Filipino musical plays that I’ve watched, “Alikabok” staged in mid-90s at Music Museum, where local singer-actress, Rachel Alejandro dubbed the role of Bising.

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Details of “Una Bulaqueña, by Juan Luna, Oil on canvass, 1895.

I see brilliant minds with every stroke per painting. Filipino blood lines are geniuses!

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“Normandie” by Juan Luna, Oil on canvass, undated.

“Gallery IV : Fundacion Santiago Hall. The works of 19th century Filipino sculptors, notably, Isabelo Tampico y Lacandola, Guillermo Tolentino and others…”

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“Gallery V : Works by the National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, including four original sculptures and one fine drawing, View of Gendarmenmarkt, from his 1886 sojourn in Berlin….”

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“Rizal the Reformist” by Martino A. Abellana, Oil on painting, 1960.
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“El Idillio de un Azotea” by Roman Faustino, Oil on canvass, 1945.

“Gallery VI : The late contemporaries and artistic successors of the generation of Luna and Hidalgo who were active in the late Spanish colonial period and on into the American occupation and before the Second World War, including Fabian  de la Rosa, Jorge Pineda, Irineo Miranda, Fernando Amorsolo, Pablo Amorsolo and numerous artists…..”

Despite its being incomplete, this Amorsolo painting won my heart…

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“Portrait of a Lady (Unfinished)” by Fernando Amorsolo, Oil on canvass, undated.

Other masterpieces that I loved inside Gallery VI…

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“Tausug Princess” by Ireneo Miranda, Oil on canvass, 1951.

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“Portrait of a Lady” by Ireneo Miranda, Oil on canvass, 1952.

Philippine History drawn on canvasses are featured in Gallery IX…

“Gallery IX : The works of the great Philippine modernists and later masters featuring important works by Victorio Edades, Diosdado Lorenzo, Vicente Manansala, Carlos V. Francisco, Hernando R. Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi, Ang Kiukok, Nena Saguil, Jose Joya, Adbulmari Imao, Ben Cabrera and various artists who were instrumental in setting bold directions for Philippine art from the 1930s into the later decades of the twentieth century.”

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Planting of the First Cross by Vicente S. Manansala, Oil on canvass, 1965.

And suddenly, college days spent attending our Philippine History class resurfaced.
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First Mass at Limasawa by Carlos V. Francisco, Oil on canvass, 1965.

The next textured painting spoke to me.  I fell in love at first sight.

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Naiad by Jose Joya, Oil on wood, 1964.

“Gallery XII SPPC Hall : New acquisitions and new loans are displayed here.”

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Portrait of Cheng Ban Lee and Madame So Boan Ty by Frederico Aguilar Alcuaz, Oil on canvass, 1959.

“Gallery XII Security Bank Hall : Guillermo Tolentino, National Artist for Sculpture, whose prolific career spanned the 1920s to the 1970s, dominated the Filipino sculpture during his lifetime and in the decades  beyond, particularly in the field of portraiture and human forms. His work here is presented in collaboration with the Tolentino family and various private patrons and institutional partners of the National Museum.”

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The Sculptor (Portrait of Guillermo E. Tolentino) by Crispin V. Lopez, Oil on canvass, 1948.

Those were just a few that I really liked inside National Art Gallery in National Museum of the Philippines. If you’re in Manila, particularly those Filipinos who have not been to National Museum yet, pay it a visit and I guarantee you, you’ll be extra-grateful that you’re born Filipino and you’ll absolutely grow more appreciation within.
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*this is NOT a sponsored post.

National Museum of the Philippines | Padre Burgos Drive, City of Manila, the Philippines | website & contact details : www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph

31
Jan
14

INTRAMUROS, MANILA | SAN AGUSTIN MUSEUM

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I’ve been going to San Agustin Church within the historic and cobblestone streets of Intramuros, Manila since my wonder years. My parents used to take me and my siblings to 30 churches every Holy Week back then, and their list included San Agustin Church. But it took more than 30 years before I set foot in its museum.

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One sunny afternoon, I had an urge to revisit  Quiapo and headed to Intramuros with the intent to experience San Agustin Museum. It was my first time to see the church with its old peach paint removed. I wasted no time and asked one of the bystanders of the museum’s location, and to my surprise, the entrance was just a few steps from the right side of the main church door. I know no reason why my parents didn’t bring us inside San Agustin Museum; I haven’t inquired but it’s no longer important for the time already came for me to discover and explore the museum myself.

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With only PhP 100 current admission rate for adult (PhP 80 for senior citizens, and almost half the cost for students with IDs),  every centavo was worth it!

I don’t know about you but I know some people don’t entertain the idea of going to museum. Perhaps, they’re not fascinated with history, heritage, arts and things of the past, or totally not interested with some places without life. Unlike them, I am easily drawn to anything significant; or anything of my interest. Probably, it’s really to each his own.

Immediately after the admission counter and the turnstile, a huge lifeless bell greeted me. It was simply labeled with a laminated paper that states, “A 3,400 kilogram bell, taken down in 1927 from the belfry of the San Agustin Church damaged by the earthquake of 1863.”

I was warned that photography without flash is only permitted at the hallways and not inside exhibit rooms. Good enough! I obliged of course.

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Every step I took seemed a stroll back in time. Isn’t that amazing? (surprising? exciting? hehehe!)

Most of the items in the hallway at the ground floor are for sale; from paintings to wooden sculptures, most have tags with fixed prices for those collectors and patrons of the arts.
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The concrete staircase and its ceiling, en route to the second level almost took my breath away! I literally uttered, “Wow!” several times and left me in awe for few minutes. It was like setting foot inside a century-old dungeon or a castle, or felt like I was ascending the steps of Hogwarts with Professor Dumbledore, Hagrid and Snape about to greet me with magical spells! Very theatrical and cinematic!
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Surreal!

Then I found the displays and stained glass windows at the second level even more amazing!
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From the scale model of San Agustin Church, to small brass replica of galleon ships, paintings, priest vestments and whatnot, to the restricted noise of young students who were having an educational field trip with their teacher, I took everything in as a visual feast! Every corner appeared picturesque to me!
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But the highlight of my visit to San Agustin Museum was admiring the choir chamber and the church’s ceiling to my heart’s delight! I found logical reason for my one hundred Philippine pesos entrance fee for I have not seen the ceiling’s painting this up close! Wow! Wow! Wow!

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The intricate carvings on the solid choir seats was beyond wonderful! Imagine, these were done creatively decades ago!

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Behold. The ceiling of San Agustin Church done in trompe l’oeil.

A quick glance at Wiki, trompe l’oeil (French for deceive the eye) defined as “an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that depicted objects exist in three dimensions.”
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Beautiful, isn’t it?

I just hope and pray that proper restoration shall be done to those dilapidated areas.

Other than my appreciation for the ceiling, the pipe organ also a caught my eyes and my lens.

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From the choir loft, I completely understand why San Agustin Church remains to be a favorite venue of Sacrament of Matrimony.

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Of all the paintings inside the exhibit halls and corridors, I figured out my favorite. It’s called, The Family of the Virgin Mary, 234.3 cm x 173.3cm (92″ x 68″), Oil on Canvass, tagged as 19th century, Araneta collection.
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More must-see-display on the ground floor…

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There’s a door from the museum that leads to the church itself besides the church’s main facade.
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My two hours inside the San Agustin Museum may not be as entertaining as watching a blockbuster comedy, love story, action or fantasy films, but my appreciation of my heritage, religion, timeless treasures of my country was heightened tremendously.

“In 1993, San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, under the collective title Baroque Churches of the Philippines. It was named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976.” ~wiki.

San Agustin Church & San Agustin Museum | General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila | website : http://www.sanagustinchurch.org/

>><<

17
Jan
14

QUIAPO, MANILA | POSTCARDS FROM PLAZA MIRANDA

Most people equate Quiapo as the heart of Manila, and that includes me. Although I am not a Manileño,  my love affair with Quiapo in the Philippines’ big city dates back long before I started studying my Pre-Med course in one of the oldest institutions, Far Eastern University in 1993, that’s located a stone’s throw away from Quiapo.  I have been familiar with Quiapo and the streets of Manila, some of its alleys and main roads since my early childhood years when my parents began bringing me and my siblings to 30 churches every Holy Week.  No, I’m not telling you that I grew up religious, but I am implying that I have been keeping an itchy feet to go to Manila every now and then.  And if I will narrow down my favorite places there, it surely includes Intramuros, Chinatown and Divisoria, and of course, Quiapo!

In my humble attempt to share with you my fascination with Quiapo, I tried my best to capture its colors on my amateur-photos. Let me know if you think any of these are, ehem *clears throat*,  postcard-worthy.

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Wishing Candles.

Red for love and offering for family. White for purity. Blue for peace of mind. Green for money. Violet for material wealth. Yellow for good spirit. Pink for love and health. Orange for brightness. Brown for good fortune. Peach for studies. Black for conscience. Rainbow-colored candles (except black), or one of each colors per bundle are sold for PhP 20 and it comes with a prayer written in Tagalog, with instruction to utter your wish 3x. Again, these are Wishing Candles. And apparently, prayers are different from wishes; but aren’t they eye-candy?

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Tarot Cards, Fortune Telling and Pyschic Powers.

Located in front of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, famously known as Quiapo Church is the town square called, Plaza Miranda. Thriving within Plaza Miranda are various peddlers, vendors and stall owners that sell variety of things from religious articles and images, flowers, vegetables and fruits. One of the most interesting groups of people who occupy  prominent corners in Plaza Miranda are the Psychics and Fortune Tellers. Even more noteworthy to me are those devotees and faithfuls who, after praying and hearing Holy Masses, go and sit under the huge and colorful umbrellas of these fortune tellers, to listen to their so called prophecies, predictions and warnings, *no pun intended*.  At a current rate of PhP 100 per tarot card reading for about 20-30 minutes, clients could hear fortune teller’s readings about their luck, money, love life, work and whatnot.

I think most of them who studied tarot card reading and interpretation would mention possibilities that may or may not happen in the client’s life. I certainly don’t believe in fortune telling. Do you? Whether you believe it or not, truth remains that business is good for those fortune tellers. And did I have my fun share of listening to tarot card reading in Quiapo? Go ahead and guess. Read my mind!
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Rosaries.

I bought a rosary, the wooden brown one at the far left of the photo above at PhP 20.
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Amulets, Talismans, Charms?

According to Powerfortunes.com, “the word talisman comes from the Arabic word, tilsam which itself comes from the Greek word telos which means to consecrate or to initiate into the mysteries.  A talisman is defined as an object that has apparently magical or miraculous effects and that can avert misfortune and bring good fortune when acquired. An amulet, originated from the Latin word, amuletum, is essentially another term for talisman. Amulets are lucky charms that have magical inscriptions and which has been consecrated through incantation.”

When I asked the male vendor of the stall where I took the photo of those pendant-looking amulets, of its use and function and where they source it, I received a candid yet seemingly truthful response. “Ang suppliers po namin ay taga-Batangas at Cavite. Ang gamit po nyan ay naayon at alam ng bumibili” (“Our suppliers come from the provinces of Batangas and Cavite. People who buy those things certainly know how to use them”).

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Roasted Peanuts. Yum!

There’s always something to munch at Plaza Miranda. I bought a small pack of roasted and garlicky peanuts for PhP 10.

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Ginger and Chilies.

I told you, Plaza Miranda in Quiapo is so colorful, isn’t it?
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Smoked Fish, or locally called Tinapa.

My mom asked me to buy Tinapa or smoked fish. I bought two piles of smoked fish! Delicious!
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Bouquets.

I think flowers are appropriate within the vicinity of a church.
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Dried Shrimps or locally called, Hibe.  Dried and Salted Fish or locally called, Tuyo.  Yum!

From Plaza Miranda all the way to Quinta Market, the side streets are loaded with stalls of fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, dried, fresh, cured, marinated. Name it.

I also bought a PhP 50-pack of  Tuyo, or salted dried fish and a kilogram of tomatoes.
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A stall of vegetables and fruits.

My love and fascination for Quiapo Church, Plaza Miranda and all their colors will remain the same, perhaps even after my legs and knees become weak to drag my feet to go to Manila.
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Wishing candles. Again. You love the colors, don’t you? I do!

>><<

22
Dec
13

WHERE MY FEET BROUGHT ME IN 2013

It takes a formidable spirit to endure 2013.  From the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan, earthquake and armed conflict in our country, The Philippines, to my personal adversities, we could either dwell on tragedy and misery or choose to rise, become better, and move on. The results will always depend on our decisions.

Yet in so many ways, I consider 2013 as one of my most blessed years. There are so much reasons to celebrate and be grateful for! I was privileged to set foot in few countries that brought me priceless memories and worthwhile experiences. I was fortunate to be invited to some of the luxurious hotels and restaurants in Malaysia, Singapore and Manila. The year was also kind in providing this blog, recognition, online features and citations.

With this photo-essay, allow me to relive and share once more, where my feet took me in 2013. Everything in 2013 reminded me that every moment counts, every step matters. I’m counting blessings.

JANUARY 2013 : CHIANG MAI,  THAILAND

Ringed Beauty, published on July/August 2012 Lonely Planet Magazine Asia
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kids in chiang mai
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FEBRUARY 2013 : LANGKAWI, KEDAH  &  PENANG, MALAYSIA 

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LANGKAWI, KEDAH, MALAYSIA : Our Days in Cenang & Tengah Beaches, Langkawi

Also in February 2013, I was able to blog a Mini-Travel-Guide to George Town, Penang…

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FEBRUARY 2013 : Mini Guide to George Town, Penang : A UNESCO World Heritage Site

MARCH  2013 : KUALA LUMPUR  &  PENANG, MALAYSIA

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MARCH 2013 : Charity Work with Gabby & Malaysian Bloggers in 3 Orphanages in Penang

BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013
MARCH 2013 : 2013 Ministry of Tourism Malaysia’s Best Expat Blog Award Winner

APRIL 2013  :  MALACCA, MALAYSIA  &  SINGAPORE

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APRIL 2013 : Random Memories, Happy Thoughts from Melaka

MAY 2013 : SINGAPORE  &  PENANG, MALAYSIA

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MAY 2013 : Singapore River Safari

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MAY 2013 : River Safari, Night Safari & Singapore Flyer :  Courtesy of iVenture Card, Singapore
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MAY 2013 :  Chowrasta Road & Market

JUNE 2013 : MALACCA, MALAYSIA  &  SINGAPORE

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JUNE 2013 :  Mods Cafe Melaka
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JUNE 2013 : Singapore Night Safari

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JUNE 2013 : Singapore Flyer & More

AUGUST 2013 :  KATHMANDU,  BHAKTAPUR,  PATAN, NAGARKOT,  NEPAL

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*Nepal Blog Series includes :

SEPTEMBER 2013 :  MANILA,  PHILIPPINES

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SEPTEMBER 2013  : Back in Manila

OCTOBER 2013 :  PENANG, MALAYSIA

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george town, penang, malaysia
may 9 2013 743pm thursday
OCTOBER 2013 : How Do You Say Goodbye To Malaysia

NOVEMBER 2013 : SINGAPORE

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NOVEMBER 2013 :  Gardens By The Bay Revisited Singapore

DECEMBER 2013 : MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES

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DECEMBER : 2013 Grand Marian Procession, Intramuros, Manila

SPONSORED STAYCATIONS  2013 : PENANG, SINGAPORE, MALACCA, KUALA LUMPUR

I am also thankful to all people who invited me and my family to complimentary hotel accomodation in Malaysia and Singapore this year. I cannot  be grateful enough! Many thanks to :

  • Eastin Hotel Penang, Malaysia
  • Ibis Hotel on Bencoolen, Singapore
  • Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, Malaysia
  • Quayside Hotel & Halia Inc. Restaurant, Malacca, Malaysia
  • The Elizabeth Hotel, Singapore
  • Orchard Parade Hotel, Singapore
  • Somerset Serviced Residences, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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MARCH 2013 : Eastin Hotel Penang
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MAY 2013 : Singapore : Ibis Hotel on Bencoolen
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MAY 2013 : Heritage Wing of E&O Hotel Penang

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MAY 2013 : Corner Suite, Victory Annexe Wing, E&O Hotel Penang

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JUNE 2013 : Quayside Hotel & Halia Restaurant Coffee Bar, Malacca

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OCTOBER 2013 : Elizabeth Hotel, Singapore

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OCTOBER 2013 : Orchard Parade Hotel Singapore
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OCTOBER 2013 : Somerset Serviced Residence, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur

COMPLIMENTARY FOOD INDULGENCE : PENANG, SINGAPORE, MANILA

I’m also grateful to the people who sent invitations from restaurants and a few good friends in Penang, Singapore and Manila. Thank you very much to :

  • Macalister Mansion, Penang
  • Sarkies, Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang
  • 1885, Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang
  • Dinner Treat by Dennis in Hakumai & Omakase, Antoinette, Singapore.
  • Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
  • Beringer Wines and Cirkulo Restaurant, Makati City
  • Silk Thai Road, BGC, Taguig City
  • Burger Company, Quezon City
  • Dinner Treats from my Malaysian families in Penang – Mr. Michael & Jasmine, and Mr. Loh & family
  • Lunch & Dinner Treat by great friends, Rob & LG
  • Harina Artisan Bakery & Cafe, Quezon City
  • Sentro 1771, Serendra, BGC, Taguig City

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Torchon of Foie Gras, Crumble, Gastrique Pearls
MARCH 2013 : Macalister Mansion : Tobreck Vertical Wine Dinner
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MARCH 2013 : Sarkies’ Seafood Buffet Dinner Extravaganza, E&O Hotel Penang
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MAY 2013 : 1885 : Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang’s Fine Dining Restaurant

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MAY 2013 :  Singapore : Hakumai Sushi & Omakase | Antoinette French Desserts

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JULY 2013 : Wine & Dine Buffet Dinner at Sarkies, E&O Hotel, Penang
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JULY 2013 : Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel Penang

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OCTOBER 2013 : Farewell Dinner at Sarkies,E&O Hotel Penang
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NOVEMBER 2013 : Two Dinners Hosted by My Malaysian Families

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NOVEMBER 2013 : Lunch & Dinner Treats from Great Friends of 20 Years & Counting
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NOVEMBER 2013 : Beringer Wines at Cirkulo Restaurant, Makati City

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NOVEMBER 2013 : Finest Thai Food at Silk Road, BGC
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NOVEMBER 2013 : Burger Company, Quezon City

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DECEMBER 2013 : Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe, Quezon City

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DECEMBER 2013 : Sentro 1771 Serendra, BGC

  • Special thanks goes out to Malaysia Airlines for sponsoring our family’s PEN-KUL-KTM roundtrip tickets!

Apart from the Best Expat Blog Award from Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for two consecutive years, 2013 also brought me a few more citations and priceless things that boost my self-esteem. Again, many thanks to those few people who believe in this blog.

PINOY TRAVEL BLOGGERS
And fortunately, for the second time, one of the photos I took in Chiang Mai, Thailand was published in 4 pages of the esteemed travel magazine, Lonely Planet Asia last  July 2013.

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JULY 2013 : My Travel Photo Published on 4 Pages of Lonely Planet Asia Magazine

Looking back, no superlatives will be appropriate to describe the places I’ve been to and the people I’ve met. No volume of photos will ever be enough to express the good and bad memories of the journeys I took. Everything and everyone provided me life lessons generously.

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Twenty thirteen has been like no other, yet through it all, one thing remains the same. I opt not to dwell in negative things and be more hopeful for tomorrow. It’s incredibly ecstatic to wonder where my feet will take me in the coming years.

  May we all have a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

>><<

PTB Blog Carnival

*This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival

for the month of December 2013 entitled,

“The Pinoy Travel Bloggers Closing the Curtains on 2013: Love, Learn and Living”

hosted by Brenna Bustamante of

The Philippine Travelogue.

>><<

05
Dec
13

INTRAMUROS, MANILA | 2013 GRAND MARIAN PROCESSION

“I love you when you bow in your mosque,

kneel in your temple,

pray in your church.

For you and I are sons of religion,

and it is the spirit.”

~ Khalil Gibran

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Around 3PM, I rode the MRT train from Santolan Station all the way to its last stop in Recto, Manila. Strolled my way to Quiapo, then took a jeepney ride to Pier and alighted near the Department of Immigration building. The road was completely blocked to private and public vehicles and only people were allowed to walk through the historic walled city. Few steps further, I found myself standing in front of the restored Ayuntamiento, among the thick volume of crowd, waiting for the 100 carrozas to float by.  Although I spent countless evenings of Holy Wednesdays, Good Fridays and dawns of Easter Sundays watching Catholic saint-processions with my family in Marikina City and considering I used to be a part of an all-boys-choir in Marikina Catholic School, who used to sing in First Friday Masses, Living Rosary and other religious activities in school during my growing up years,  attending the longest procession devoted to the Blessed Virgin entirely, was something new to me.  It was my first time to attend and witness the Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros, Manila that, correct me if I’m wrong, is an annual event held every first Sunday of December.

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Ayuntamiento

01 December 2013, Sunday, Intramuros, Manila. It was drizzling when I arrived within the vicinity of Manila Cathedral but the mild downpour miraculously stopped around 5PM, so timely for the start of the Grand Marian Procession for this year. Armed with my long black umbrella, I took a few shots of the first few carrozas on queue. Most of them came from nearby parishes in Metro Manila, to as far as Northern, Central and Southern Luzon, with few that came from provinces in the South.
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La Familia De La Virgen Maria.

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The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth.

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Angel Gabriel on the Annunciation tableu.

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Annunciation

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Nuestra Senora De La O from Our Lady’s Nativity Parish, Pangil, Laguna.

I saw groups of people with gadgets that could take photos swarming around one of the carrozas that was literally filled with colorful and attractive flowers; mostly Ecuadorean roses in various hues. Not long after, I joined the bystanders and faithfuls who were in awe at San Jose and his float. It was the grandest I’ve seen!
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Roses in various colors & other blooms, mirrors, faux trees & crystals adorned San Jose’s carroza.

Within 4 hours of watching the procession, at times I whispered prayers to the Lord and to His Blessed Mother, whose many images passed me by, I was totally amazed and proud of the Filipino faith. Each Marian icon was accompanied and ushered by parish priest/s, sacristans, some with nuns, marching bands, a few came with Boy scouts, folk dancers and young and old ones who were dressed in their Sunday’s best and traditional Filipino attires, volume of parishioners and Marian devotees from the town or city the image came from.

Every expression of Filipino devotion to the Virgin Mary was unique. Some paraded in solemnity, complete with recitation of the Holy Rosary; some were barefooted, others attended in uniform shirts; while some devotees were amazingly cheerful, vocal and loud in professing their love to the Virgin Mary, with singing, waving of handkerchiefs, dancing, particularly the people from Pakil, Laguna who ushered Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba, people from Candaba, Pampanga who brought Nuestra Senora de la Merced and the people from San Mateo, Rizal who accompanied Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu.

Of all the Marian images I saw, I was moved and grounded as a Filipino when the carroza of Ina Poon Bato from Zambales passed by and I saw it was accompanied by Aetas, our indigenous brothers and sisters.

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San Roque.

Image of St. Andrew or locally known as San Andres was brought in from Catanduanes, Bicol.

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St. Andrew.

Then that incredibly beautiful carroza of St. Joseph or San Jose passed by.
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St. Joseph.

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La Familia De La Virgen Maria.

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Annunciation.

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Mary and Joseph.

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Nuestra Senora De Navidad.

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From Cainta, Rizal, Mahal Na Ina Ng Kaliwanagan or the Our Lady of Light.

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Other than flowers, the parishioners from Cainta used suman, or rice cakes in the carroza.Wow!

People from all ages and walks of life participated. We were all prayerful under one sky.
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Mary, Help of Christians.

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Our Lady of Penafrancia, Naga, Bicol.

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La Angustia De Maria La Santisima Nazarena.

Something new to me was the image of Mother Mary as Our Lady of Providence/Our Lady of China for the Chinese Catholic community. It was my first time to see such gracious image.

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Our Lady of Providence/Our Lady of China.
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Nuestra Senora La Desatadora De Nundos. Our Lady Untier of Knots.

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Roses and annato/achiote or locally called in the Philippines as atsuete adorned the carroza.

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Rosa Mistica. One of the few images that was carried via wooden poles on shoulders.

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Women who ushered their image in traditional Filipino attire.

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La Pieta…

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La Pieta.

As mentioned, one of the images of the Blessed Mother that paraded with numerous devotees and parishioners was the Nuestra Senora De Aranzazu from San Mateo, Rizal. The energy of the people clapping, singing, waving their flags and hankerchiefs, cheering for the Blessed Mother was beyond inspiring!

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Nuestra Senora De Aranzazu from San Mateo, Rizal.

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Nuestra Senora De La Santisima Trinidad.

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Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba from Saint Peter of Alcantara Parish, Pakil, Laguna.

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Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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Our Lady of Montserrat.
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Our Lady of Czestochowa, The Black Madonna.
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Mary, The Lady of All Nations.
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Our Lady of Banneux.

Hail to Ina Poon Bato from Zambales! Accompanied by our indigenous brothers and sisters, the Aetas.
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Ina Poon Bato from Zambales. 

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Mary, Mirror of Justice from Comembo, Makati City.
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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

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Birhen ng Lujan.

*There were 100 carrozas in this Grand Marian Procession and please forgive me if this blog post only features less than half of them, a few without names of Our Lady.  I’m so sorry as I tried my best to capture the signages from each carroza, however, I only did as much for 4 hours (5PM-9PM) of standing and taking amateur photos for me to share on this site.  I’ll appreciate if readers could identify those Marian images on this post without labels.  Also, some of the photos turned out to be blurred that I chose not to post. The other Marian images were :

  • Our Lady of Caysasay, Taal, Batangas,
  • Nuestra Senora de la Merced, Candaba, Pampanga,
  • Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City,
  • Nuestra Senora de Barangay,
  • Nuestra Senora del Santisimo Rosario de Malabon,
  • Our Lady of Piat,
  • La Naval de Manila,
  • Our Lady of Orani,
  • Nuestra Senora de la Soledad de Nueva Ecija,
  • Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Cebu,
  • and many more that I failed to list down and capture. Again, my apologies.

For four hours, my focus from challenges of daily living was deviated to something more meaningful; something peaceful. This religious activity truly defined what Filipino Marian devotion is to me.

On December 8, Happy Feast Day of the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception!

Please pray for us.

>><<

20
Nov
13

HOME IS WHERE THE MOST DELICIOUS FOOD IS!

max's dessert sampler
Dessert Sampler.  Believe me, it’s more toothsome than it looks!

That enticing sampler platter came with sweet portions of :

  • Ube Creme Decadence (smooth, light and creamy eggless custard filled with purple yam or ube jam and topped by ube cake crumbs),
  • Buco Pandan (Coconut and pandan strips, green jelly cubes or gulaman and tapioca).
  • Leche Flan (Creme caramel),
  • Cream Brownie Ala Mode topped with vanilla ice cream.

max's chopsuey
Chopsuey.

max's chicken sisig
Chicken Sisig.

max's kare kare
Kare-kare (Beef or Ox tail Stew in Peanut Sauce).

max's fried chicken
Spring Fried Chicken.

max's adobo fried rice
Adobo Fried Rice.

my family
Daddy, my brother, Mac, Mommy and me.

When the Overseas Filipino Worker in me came home last month, the happiest parts of my body were my tongue and my stomach! Although we cooked and ate Filipino dishes at our apartment in Penang, nothing beats eating everything you want in the Philippines!

As you may know, Filipino restaurants almost don’t exist in Penang, so you cannot blame me if I had so much craving for authentic Pinoy favorites.  That craving was satisfied a few days after I got home from Malaysia when I had weekend lunch with my parents, and one of my brothers in a Filipino restaurant that’s not only considered a family favorite but also default choice on rare occasions that we go out.

We simply indulged over Chopsuey, Sizzling Chicken Sisig, Kare-kare which is on top of my list of favorites, a signature Spring Fried Chicken, and my brother, Mac suggested we have to sample Adobo Fried Rice (fried rice with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, tomatoes and salted egg slices) that I found delicious too, although I thought it’s a bit heavy when paired with those viands, thus we also ordered cups of plain rice. Carbo-loading, I know! It was a hearty lunch just before we glue our eyes watching the movie, Thor, The Dark World.

If you’re from the Philippines too, I bet you’re so familiar with my family’s default choice of food place! Can you name it? Do we have the same favorite? What are your favorite Pinoy dishes?

>><<

15
Nov
13

A WEEK AFTER THE STORM

After being home for 3 weeks from Penang, one of my former Malaysian students sent me a private message on facebook, and asked of our condition in the Philippines. He mentioned, they learned from CNN that our country was ravaged by the recent typhoon. Another Malaysian student expressed her concern about me and our family regarding the same matter. I felt blessed and thankful.

A week after Typhoon Haiyan (locally known in The Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) struck our country and left most Filipinos in devastated state, I felt the urge to bring my feet back to the heart of Manila. I found myself with knees bent, inside the Catholic church dedicated to the patron saint of the hopeless and despaired.

Novena was uttered by the faithfuls; gospel was read and a brief homily was delivered by the priest. It almost moved me to tears, as I am grateful that my family and I, despite having difficulties, are still alive, safe, and healthy. I fervently asked for forgiveness, blessings and mercy, neither for my own sake, nor for my family alone, but more so, for those Filipinos who have been suffering from losses, physical and emotional traumas caused by the terrifying storm.

I lit 3 candles, said my prayers again and strolled my way out of the Malacanang vicinity. Barely an hour with surprisingly less traffic, I reached Malate Church via 2 jeepney rides. I went inside and talked to my Creator once more. Imagine a prodigal sinner coming home to His father.  Seriously, like a battery-with-full-bars, I felt extremely recharged! So with my spirit up and hopes high, I went out of the church. And everything became lighter.

manila bay sunset november 14, 2013 docgelo 529pm
Manila Bay, Philippines. 11/14/2013, Thursday, 5:29PM.

While I am one with the many who so appreciate the incredible financial contributions and generous humanitarian assistance being rendered by other nations to the Filipino people, I’m also grateful for the efforts exerted and donations given by our own countrymen.

Positive things must not end.  There must be no room for negative words at this time and beyond, as it would not offer any solution but add further insult to the injuries.

Life’s challenges taught me so well to be more faithful rather than lose hope. Better to put two palms together in prayer rather than to point fingers and blame others.

“The Lord is a refuge of the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” – Psalm 9:9

>><<

30
Oct
13

PENANG | FAREWELL DINNER AT SARKIES, E&O HOTEL

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The elegant yet welcoming lobby of Victory Annexe Wing, Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

16 October 2013. Wednesday.  Sarkies at Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang. My second to the last day in Penang after living and working there for more that 3 years was made extraordinarily memorable!  Why?  Simply because the BEST and the most luxurious heritage hotel in Penang, and dare I say the entire Malaysia perhaps, invited me to a farewell dinner with people who helped me with everything in Penang.  Admittedly, I was overwhelmed!  The feeling was surreal!

If you’re following this blog, you must have read that my family and I were fortunately invited by E&O Hotel Penang several times this year and surprisingly, I felt so valued and so at home not only with their suite, restaurants but more so with their warmest and friendliest staff.  I really appreciate everything!

I remember, it’s March of this year when we first experienced Sarkies’ Seafood Buffet Dinner Extravaganza that’s offered every Wednesday at E&O.  It remains one of our most remarkable and delicious indulgent moments to date!  And from then on, we spent more fondest memories at E&O.  Consequently, I cannot put into words how grateful I am for being invited again to savor a delightful feast at Sarkies!

Having dined at some of the premier hotel buffets in the island, I can justly say that Sarkies at E&O provides its diners the freshest and the most flavorful seafood dishes at a very affordable rates that can absolutely challenge any 5-star-hotel-buffets in Manila!

Doors open at 7PM for buffet dinner but we managed to be there a bit earlier so I got photos of the spread before they were refilled.  Enjoy the photos and control yourself not to drool! Hehehe! :D

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It’s always nice to go back and find improvements to appreciate!

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Why, hello there, roast duckies! :)

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Ice sculptures at the freshest seafood station were an absolute visual delight!

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Something NEW at Sarkies Seafood Extravaganza Buffet : Chinese!

And then there were more choices to grill. Care for some salmon on the teppan or some sausages on the grill?

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Chicken Satay is a must-eat when in Malaysia! Dip in in peanut sauce & you’ll be in cloud-9 !

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Oysters Rockefeller. Yummy!

What makes Sarkies at E&O Penang Eat-All-You-Want-Dinner so worth it?
The freshest imported and local SEAFOODS of course!

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Alaskan Crab Legs : Always a feast!

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I had the privilege of meeting Chef Petr and Ms. Eileen of Eastern & Oriental again, and they proudly showed me another impressive addition to the Sarkies spread. Try to look at its claws and go figure!

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SPANNER CRAB, imported from Australia no less!

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Hey, Duo of Gravlax, we meet again! Call me a bit weird but I liked its saltiness!

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That’s a huge fish, isn’t it? My mom tried it and said it’s tasteful!

17
I’m not a fan of crayfish but salmon? I love salmon served in any way!

I’d like to thank E&O Hotel for allowing me to enjoy the savory eat-all-you-want dinner at Sarkies once more with my family and the people I considered my family in Penang. They know me more than you can imagine and had expressed priceless concern and unconditional generosity to me and my family until our last minutes in Penang.  They’re my Malaysian family! I cannot be thankful enough!

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From left-to-right : My maternal aunt, my one & only mom, & Ms. Jasmine (Gabby’s school principal in Penang).

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My Malaysian family (from Right to Left) : Sir Michael, Ms. Jasmine, their son, Ethan & relative, Jacinta.

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Glad to bring my mom to Sarkies at Eastern & Oriental Hotel! Thank you so much, E&O!

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With Ethan (Gabby’s friend and former schoolmate), my aunt & mom.

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We’re all happy diners at Sarkies!

Other than seafood dishes, there were a lot more to sample from local and continental options that I failed to capture.

Now, let’s continue the indulgence.  Desserts, anyone?

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So many cakes, so little time! Hehehe! These bite-sized carrot-pistachio cakes were really good!

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Everything’s delicious!  They’re more toothsome than they look on my photos!

I intentionally skipped lunch and afternoon snack (or what they call in Malaysia, High Tea) to empty my stomach for this feast. *Kidding!* Seriously, here’s a shameless display of what I ate.

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First went to the Noodle Station, chose my ingredients & asked the chef to whip everything up.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, meet my first plate that sumptuous evening…

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My version of Penang’s Hokkien Mee with seafood galore! I loved it!

And then there were more plates to savor!  Thank you, Lord! :)

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Salmon Sashimi and Duo of Gravlax. Does this reveal I’m a salmon-monster? Hahaha!

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And my love affair with Japanese lives on…

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Twinings’ Jasmine Tea made everything so perfect! Can’t deny it aids in digestion too!

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Spanner crab from Australia, Alaskan crab legs, and everything nice!

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Jacinta and Ethan! Happy to share the dining table with them!

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Roasted Beef with Mushroom Sauce. Beautiful! I missed Gabby as this is one of his favorites at Sarkies!

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When in Penang, must eat Oyster Omelet. I paired it with Roasted Duck & its sauce. I’m lost for superlatives!

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Char Koay Teow. It’s my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish and I tasted Sarkies’ version a few times but this one’s a letdown that evening. The rice noodle didn’t taste fresh; we reported it to the staff and the head waiter immediately apologized. Customer-service at its best!

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Chef Petr of Sarkies’ Seafood Extravaganza Buffet. Always a pleasure to meet him! Thanks, Chef!

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Another group pic! :)

From the dessert spread, I chose these tiny bites…

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Heavenly! Thank you, Lord!

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Fiber loading! I always love fresh fruits on buffet! It’s a must for digestion obviously!

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I think this was Ms. Jasmine’s ice cream platter. I can’t imagine a world without ice cream, can you? :)

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My mom and aunt. All smiles at the lobby! Happy to see them happy!

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Thank you, E&O Hotel Penang for that memorable indulgence!

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Had a relaxing stroll at the E&O promenade. It’s the only hotel in Penang by the Malacca Strait!

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A child’s happiness is always a blessing! Nice pose you got there, Ethan! We miss you! :)

So when you find yourself in George Town, Penang, do drop by at E&O Hotel and treat yourself with a dose of history and the finest Malaysian hospitality. You might consider dining at Sarkies too or at other E&O’s food & beverage outlets!  Of course, hotel accomodation packages are currently inclusive of breakfast buffet at Sarkies. Have fun in Penang and enjoy E&O!

This blog’s other special features about Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang include :

EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG | George Town, Penang, Malaysia | for more details and hotel reservation, kindly visit their website :  http://e-o-hotel.com/  

SARKIES at E&O | for more details and dining reservations, kindly visit their website : http://e-o-hotel.com/sarkies/

Thank you so much, E&O Hotel! Thank you so much, Sarkies!  Special thanks goes out to Ms. Eileen of E&O! Thank you and see you again in the near future!

>><<

13
Aug
12

A WEEKEND OF MOVIES, FOOD & A DENTIST

August 10-12, 2012. Our weekend officially kicked off at home last Friday night with a mug of coklat (pronounced as choklat, “chocolate” in Bahasa Melayu)-flavored ice cream. Look how Gabby spruced up his own mug. :)
gabby and his chocolate ice cream, august 10, 2012

The morning after, Tina, Gabby and I took 2 bus rides and trooped to Sunway Carnival Mall, one of the few malls in mainland Penang (the others are in the island).  We were supposed to watch the movie, The Bourne Legacy. We first went to the cinema counter and found out that the said movie was rated R18; Gabby’s not allowed obviously.  The next best thing was the Dark Knight Rises (which was rated PG13 but with violence too! Good thing that Gabby understands never to pick up bad elements from anything he watches and most importantly, he listens whenever advised); we purchased tickets and pyched up ourselves to be in Gotham City. :)

Before Batman movie, we needed to chow down. The decision was unamimous. Burger King topped the list.
burger king, sunway carnival mall, penang, august 11, 2012
burger king, sunway carnival mall, august 11, 2012
Yes, those two large onion rings were my order! The kid-in-me longing for onion rings was satisfied happily! While I am a self-confessed onion-ring-monster, Gabby enjoyed his Grilled Chicken burger meal and Tina savored her Double Mushroom Melt burger combo. I also surrendered to Double Whopper large combo which I didn’t finish and had to take home or as they say here, takeaway! :)
double whopper burger, onion rings

We liked The Dark Knight Rises. We liked the twists and turns of the plot. Unpredictable! There was no scene that left us yawning. Bane was a very powerful and compelling villain! With Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, the movie’s more than enough to keep me awake. And with those last parts of the movie, we could only anticipate for a sequel.  Despite we’re all entertained, I was still yearning to watch The Bourne Legacy and I know Tina wants it too.

We went to the grocery to shop our supplies for the coming weeks. Soon after, we’re hungry again. We kept it low and simpler this time by choosing the affordable restaurant, IloveYoo. We had the fried bread, yoo tiao that’s too perfect to be dipped in warm and fine bowl of congee, so we had dry scallop-flavored congee, some taho or what they call here, too foo far (did I spell it correctly?), chilled soya drink and a piece of lotus ball. Solb! :)
yoo tiao, dry scallop congee, i love yoo, sunway carnival mall
taho or too foo far and lotus ball

Last Sunday was even more memorable for the three of us, specially for Gabby. It was his very first dental check up. We know it should have been done at his younger age, but as they say, better late than never. It was Tina who made all the arrangements with the dentist whose clinic is located accessible to our place. The appointment was set at 10:30AM but since punctuality runs in our blood, we’re all there few minutes past 9AM. Excited lang perhaps! ;)
gabby and dentist # 1, maxcare, raja uda
gabby & dentist # 2, august 12
gabby & dentist # 3, august 13, 2012, maxcare, raja uda, penang
gabby & dentist # 4, august 12, 2012, sunday, maxcare, raja uda

Probably like children of his age, Gabby was a bit anxious to go to the dentist. Because it was his first time, he was not  afraid nor hesitant but very curious with many queries! Tina and I brought him there for consult and we decided, if and when the dentist would find a tooth for extraction or filling, we would just bring Gabby back to her clinic.  After a quick but thorough dental exam, the dentist cleared Gabby as he doesn’t need even dental cleaning; his set of teeth is clean and fine!

Gabby to us : “Mommy, Daddy, nagulat ba kayo, clean ang teeth ko?” (“Were you surprised to know my teeth are clean?”)

Tina and I were laughing our hearts out! :D

And because his teeth are in good condition, we celebrated our late breakfast at the hawker-restaurant several steps from the dental office.

sunrise restaurant, raja uda, penang
koay teow soup
gabby enjoying his koay teow soup, raja uda, august 12, 2012
gabby's ice cream soda
pork pau and koay teow soup
lychee drink
gabby's drink
cheers, gabby!
sarap na sarap sa siopao!
It really looked like his teeth are in good condition, don’t you think so? :)

After that hearty meal of Koay Teow Soup and Pork (Sio)Pao, we all walked towards our apartment. Because Gabby can’t be admitted to The Bourned Legacy and Tina had to watch him over at home plus she had to do some chores and acquire much needed weekend rest, I got an approval from them for me to watch The Bourne Legacy alone in the island. Tina and Gabby bid me goodbye then I hopped on the bus and went my way to the cinema.

I am certainly not a movie critic but just like the food I eat, I know my taste so well.

As I posted on facebook and twitter, it’s incredibly amazing to watch Manila portrayed as Manila in a larger than life Hollywood film! It’s high time the Philippines gets the spotlight. Gone are the days when the Philippines is shown as Vietnam or Thailand on the big screen. I’m not sure if you remember that 1999 movie, Brokedown Palace which starred Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale and Bill Pullman. It was also shot in Manila but depicted as Thailand. Although to some, it may be versatility, I found it weird and unacceptable to watch my country’s capital city back then, shown as other place. At least now, Manila is Manila in The Bourne Legacy. I agree with one of The Bourne Legacy’s bit players, John Arcilla, who’s a Filipino stage and character actor, when he commented on one of his interviews about the movie that “it’s surreal!”  According to him, it’s unbelievable to see himself as a part of a Hollywood movie with jeepneys and all, filmed in the streets of Manila.

I swear the movie almost made me lost my blinking reflex! From that airport scene where the characters of Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner had to enter NAIA’s Immigration counters, to those breathtaking motorcycle chase scenes shot in the cities of Pasay, Manila and a public market in Marikina, until the movie ended in one of the Philippines’ paradise islands, Palawan, I was absolutely stunned! It was an awesome movie that I will repeat over and over again. I hope Tina and I get a chance to watch The Bourne Legacy together next time!

Have you seen it already? What’s your take on the movie?

How’s your last weekend?

The next weekend will be more exciting as our family will engage on a much needed loooooong holiday! It’ll be Hari Raya here in Malaysia or the end of Ramadhan on 18th August and the vacation from work extends until August 26th! We’ll be crossing borders of two countries once more! We cannot be grateful enough. It’ll be another weekend of family, food and fun! ;)

13
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 5 PART 2 : THE LEGARDA MANSION

Our Christmas Break 2011 Series includes :

—————————–

There's my dad-in-law who came home for the holidays from Missouri; holding hands while walking with her lovely daughter (the one in black striped shirt; not in pink, ok--no offense meant. ;-)

After an engaging and informative Malacanang Palace Tour with Ivan Man Dy, our group of local and foreigner-tourists walked back to where we met that afternoon –the Legarda Mansion that’s turned into La Cocina De Tita Moning, a fine dining restaurant that features Filipino cuisine at its best.

It’s good to see an herb garden within the restaurant itself. It’s so uncommon to spot a food place that partially rely on their own produce.

They grow Tanglad or Lemon Grass among other herbs and leaves for their very refreshing Lemon Grass Iced Tea.

We were ushered to the outdoor dining area where a tasteful and supposed to be a light merienda but was a bit heavy and delicious on the tummy was served.

While eating, Ivan continued to entertain his guests without a hint of fatigue from more than 3-hour tour guiding inside the Malacanang Palace.  I believe it’s his gift more than a talent or skill.

Then the  opportunity presented itself.  Ivan Man Dy asked us if we’re interested in having a brief tour of the Legarda Mansion for free or as a last stop of our Palace, Power and A Shot of Beer Malacanang-San Miguel Walking Tour (remember, we were enjoying our light snack at its outdoor garden and without a reservation, one may have uncertainties to be accomodated inside the Legarda Mansion itself or the La Cocina De Tita Moning restaurant proper).  I immediately replied, “Sure, I read somewhere there’s a medical clinic inside, I want to see it!”   :D

Because it was almost past 5 in the afternoon, some of the tourists had to bid goodbye. We chose to stay to take a peek inside the ancestral house.  I’m glad that my father-in-law was so courteous enough not to say no to my want despite he seriously lacked sleep and was still struggling with jet lag from his more than 16 hour flight from US to HK then Manila the day prior to the tour.

More than the main dining areas (read: several private rooms to dine) of La Cocina De Tita Moning located at the mansion’s second level….

Rose petals, sculptured crystals and the best china on the dining table.

I am more interested to see the other quarters inside the Legarda Mansion…

The wooden and iron staircase leads to a whole lot of fascination.

Do you like PHOTOGRAPHY?

Antique photography equipments are showcased in one of the rooms as Dr. Alejandro Roces-Legarda was into this beautiful (and expensive) hobby. Visitors, diners and photo-enthusiasts like me have plenty to talk about over this priceless collection.

This was how a camera looked like in Dr. Alejandro Legarda’s years…

Imagine if time didn’t evolve and cameras still appear like this, I think I cannot strap it around my neck to stroll and shoot, haha! :D

Are you into ARTS?

"La Inocencia"

For the moment, I was left in awe…

How many houses own a Juan Luna?

If owning a priceless masterpiece is close to impossible, then dreaming to have a coffee table book about such art works is the next best thing, haha! :D

Let me remind you (or myself, haha) that this mansion is the restaurant itself.

Photography. The Arts. If not, perhaps, are we playing in the same field?

Notice the stirrups on the photo? I'm no OB-Gyn but a humble General Practitioner-Educator only however, man, I miss delivering a baby! Just like many Filipino MDs, I had the chance to go on rotation in Fabella Medical Center in Manila where 98 deliveries in a 24 hour shift is considered BENIGN. I also miss my Post-Graduate Medical Internship days at Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City and my OB-Gyn rotations there. I miss yelling (just to make your voice heard) at women about to deliver, "Ginang, hingang malalim, pigil, ire!" (In that order! --"Mrs., take a deep breath, hold and push")....ah, those were the days!

Can you find a vaginal speculum on the next photo?

Dr. Alejandro Roces-Legarda was an OB-Gyn specialist along with his 3 other siblings who were all MDs.

Like the others, I also believe having a clinic at your own residence gives you the convenience to practice. However, the downside is having your own home and worst, own family being exposed to your clients’ pathogens (microbe-causing diseases ).  To each his own.

We read the same book.

Of course, it’s not an issue to me but would you still have your appetite for fine dining at the sight of a female skeleton? *just asking*

An appetite stimulant or an appetite killer? haha! I won't mind for as long as the spread's delicious!

Other than the medical clinic, the living room upstairs is definitely attention-grabbing.

One of the quarters features the family’s radio transmitter collection.  Another rare and expensive collectibles.

And then, there are some more things to tickle your fancy.

According to Ivan, a fine dining set meal, either lunch or dinner on reservation will cost you around PhP 1,500 to PhP 2,500 and up per pax. With the sample we had at the outdoor garden, I am definite that the menu is as superb if not beyond words. :D

The Legarda Mansion, a.k.a. La Cocina De Tita Moning extremely reminds me of two of my favorite heritage houses here in Penang,

the PINANG  PERANAKAN MANSION

and

the CHEONG FATT TZE  BLUE MANSION

which both stand with grandeur in George Town, one of UNESCO’s Heritage Sites.

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*Special thanks goes out to Ivan Man Dy for his generous invitations to me and my family.  For readers out there who would like a professional and intelligent and amusing guided walking tours of Manila, visit the website of  OLDMANILAWALKS.COM  for details. Kindly give my regards to Ivan if in case you’ll find time to join his tours. Thank you! 

08
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 19 : OUR BIG BINONDO FOOD WOK!

Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :

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04th January 2012, Wednesday.  In our last stop of our Binondo food trip inside Sa Lido Panciteria, one of the senior Chinese men seated at the table where I passed by to exit, called my attention and asked me, “Pogi, Pogi, saan ba lalabas iyang piniktyuran nyo, sa ‘NO RESERVATIONS’ ni ANTHONY BOURDAIN?“…..Me : “…po?  …In an instant, Ivan Man Dy approached him and explained that we will do some blog posts about it and not TV.

That moment reminded me that I was fortunate to be one of those who was tour-guided by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks just like what he did with Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations. I was silently smiling as I walked down the stairs out of that restaurant.

After Tina, my father-in-law (who’s now back in the US) and I attended Ivan’s invitation for him to tour us inside Malacanang Palace last December, he invited me and my family again for his Big Binondo Food Wok which I haven’t tried. Despite I have been to Ongpin Street and the rest of Binondo isn’t new to me, I was thrilled with the idea of going through the laterals of Manila again but this time, on a guided tour by the no-less than the main man himself of Old Manila Walks. He set the date to 4th of January, told me it would be his personal food tour of Binondo for us, and we’ll not be joining the other tourist.

Our vacation days went by and sadly at our last week in Pinas right after New Year, Gabby and I acquired cough manifested with fever :(. We’ve started on medications but as of this posting, we still have residual signs and symptoms. Because of this plus a handful of clearances that we had to secure from local government offices and our PRC license renewal, I almost turned down Ivan’s Binondo invitation. But things fell into places that I (and Gabby) felt better the night before the scheduled walking tour, and our documents were secured in a day. Thus, I was able to join the group of big time foodies (believe me, ako lang ang small time). I left my VERY OWN “BINONDO GIRL” at home to take care of our son and start packing our luggage back to Penang.

I was the last one to arrived at 1PM meet-up at the lobby of Binondo Church; thank God I was never late. We wasted no time and walked our way towards Carvajal Street….

One of the quintessential laterals of Binondo, Carvajal Street.

With lots of fruits, some carts with veggies, sun dried and smoked fish, some eateries and a bookstore, Carvajal Street is a long and narrow fascinating lateral of Binondo. It was my first time there, actually!

Our first stop was Quick Snack…Lesson: Do not underestimate simplicity of the signboard, food may blow your taste buds away! hehehe. :D

Ivan mentioned we’re in for 3 of his personal favorite food places in Binondo that he doesn’t include in his usual tours; reason : will eat up time of his walking tour.

At Quick Snack, Ivan stuffed us with what he called appetizers….

This Tofu Dish is SURREAL! ...ang sarap!

My favorite was this tofu dish. I like its crisp and crunchy coating because it’s fried but remained soft inside. The sauce was simple but to die-for.

Also on our table were plateful of kuchay empanada. I’ve tasted kuchay dumplings both steamed and fried from another Binondo eatery, Dong Bei, but never a kuchay empanada. It was interestingly good.

Kuchay Empanada.

Oyster cake is one of the hawker dishes in George Town and the rest of Pulau Pinang however, in my 18 months of living and working here, I haven’t dared try it yet. I never thought that Binondo would give my palate a sample of this seafood delight. It reminded me of Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pie.

Oyster cake

Tsinoy cuisine would not be complete without a noodle dish.

What was told by Ivan as a light merienda cum appetizer turned out to be a heavy one; we’re all stuffed at our first stop!  Then we walked towards the end of Carvajal which is Nueva Street, a spot in Binondo where paper, stationaries or school supplies and uniforms of all colleges and universities are being sold, in retail and in bulk. We entered a hopia place, one that’s familiar to me and my family other than Eng Bee Tin…

What's your flavor? Tell me, what's youf flavor. ... haha! :)

Inside Holand Hopia, Ivan quickly showed us the different flavors of hopia which are ALL being sampled in his Big Binondo Food Wok. He also featured some other delights that are must-have for the Chinese New Year celebration. Case in point, the tikoy or that glutinous rice cake. Apparently, it symbolizes unity and oneness, but now, tikoy is being brought to the next level with its impressive variant and flavor. Have you ever tried dunking your fork at a tikoy beautifully shaped as a kois? One of our former Tsinoy Nursing student before gifted me and Tina a box of it with a pair of kois-shaped tikoy. It took us days to stare at it and to decide whether to eat or not. :)

As my fellow bloggers’ eyes roamed around the small food shop, the moment became nostalgic when my eyes spotted those peanut-caoated angpaw. It reminded me of my maternal grandmother who raised us; angpaw was her favorite and I used to buy her a pack as pasalubong before.

Tikoy became so versatile in flavors. There’s that Ube and Mango tikoy. Have you tried these flavors?

Tsinoys or Filipinos in general are naturally innovative. They usually never run out of new ideas to introduce to the market. Inisde Holand Hopia, I first found HOPTIKS, a fusion of hopia and tikoy all in one! How amazing!

After Nueva Street, we found our way to Ongpin. We saw that famous peculiar street sign again at the corner of Salazar and Ongpin. I asked Ivan the reason why the first letter N of Ongpin was inverted, he replied it must be out of carelessness or plain stupidity. Regardless of the reason, it remains to be the most photographed street sign in Metro Manila.

Ivan pointed out to us the original hopia in Ongpin comes from this simple and unassuming bakery…

The old Tsinoy couple gave Ivan sample of their old-school hopia that’s still wrapped in red Japanese paper.

It’s obvious that Binondo is an interesting community at the heart of Manila. There’s food, there’s culture and heritage and there’s history. At a new age building where Sweethearts Balloons (for parties and all) and other establishments are located, this National Historic signage is posted that an ordinary Ongpin-goer would not easily noticed. The sign deserves a second look.

From Salazar and Benavidez Streets, we strolled towards the second restaurant, ROSSO. Here, Ivan wanted all of us to sample a uniquely delicious offering of a hot pot – Sichuan style!

Most of us are familiar with Yakimix, Tong Yang and other Hot Pots in the Metro but having it Sichuan style is totally different.  We began to order two variants –spareribs and chicken.  They were severd in stew. Ivan explained that the difference lies not only on the taste; as Sichuan is known to be spicy, spicier, spiciest, haha! but also on how you eat it. In the usual hot pot even here in Penang, you eat the broth with everything on it. In Rosso’s Sichuan style hot pot, you eat first the stewed meat then a new soup base would be pour before you mix the other ingredients. Quite interesting!

The sparerib stew was so delicious, I preferred it over chicken.

Ivan asked all the members of our group to order ingredients for our hot pot. The unanimous favorite is the cheese ball (a fishball like with melted cheese inside, yummy!).

Deliciously good! :D

Another Sichuan dish that was served was Sichuan water cooked beef that’s so tender and flavorful…

But if there’s one thing that would make me go back to Binondo and eat at Rosso again, it’s this dish –Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork. This plate made me crave for a double cup of steamed rice!!! It was that good! There’s a burst of flavors in my mouth that pleasantly stimulated everything in my palate. It’s one of the best pork dishes I’ve tasted!

Then as we were almost struggling to eat more, Ivan brought us all to our final stop -Sa Lido Restaurant.

The second floor of that bank promises a coffee-panciteria area perfectly fit for Chinese men discussing their families and businesses with their old time friends.  If Starbucks Coffee didn’t hit Manila by storm, this type of panciteria would be the best option.

As I have surrendered to Rosso’s Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork as the best tasting food for that day, I thought twice when I tried Lido’s Pork Asado.  The slice of meat cooked in wood fire oven effortlessly melted in my mouth and offered its smoky delicious taste. I also considered this as the best Pork Asado in town. You will definitely like it even sans sauce or gravy. Two thumbs up and a must-try! :D

Ever heard and tasted HOTOTAI? I’ve long heard of this soup dish but never have tried it until last week. Thanks Ivan, it was heavenly!

Hototai’s tasteful until its last drop. :)

Ivan never forgot to order his favorite siomai.

Asado buns and Camaron rebosado, anyone?

Again, a Chinese cuisine is never complete without anything to represent longevity. Ang sarap ng Lo Mee na to!

Lido serves one of the best coffee in town. I can’t choose between coffee and tea so I had them both.

And what a glorious day of eating Chinese food it was and so perfect to end it sweetly with Lychee and almond dessert. Yummy!

We ended our half day Binondo Food Wok with our gastric pits overflowing. Thank you so much, Ivan Man Dy and Old Manila Walks for that sumptuous treat! We truly enjoyed it. :D

For the readers and followers out there who would like to experience Binondo in its most colorful and delicious ways, I highly suggest you join Old Manila Walks Big Binondo Food Wok on Chinese New Year. You’ll get a taste and stuffed yourself with Chinese cuisine, stroll with the dancing dragons and lions, and immerse with the diversity of Manila Chinatown has to offer with the best tour guide in town, Ivan Man Dy no less.  Below are the details of what’s in store for you.

the BIG Binondo Food WOK (Chinese New Year Edition):

Nibbling Our Way Through Chinatown

January 21 (Saturday) @ 1:00 PM- 5:30  PM (approx)
January 22 (Sunday) @ 8:00 AM-12: 30 PM (approx)

@: 2:00 PM-6:00 PM (approx)

January 23 (Monday 1st day CNY) @ 8:00 AM-12:30 P.M. (approx)

新年快樂

Happy Lunar Near Year!

恭喜發財

Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

"Oh yes, its that time of the year again when we BINGE ourselves silly as we welcome the the Lunar New Year with a BIG, BIG BITE! It's the BEST time of the year to do the BIG Binondo Food WOK as the year of the rabbit hops away and we ROAR into the year for the Dragon!

So what are you waiting for? Let us paint the town RED, join in the festivities(while filling up our stomachs!) as we usher in the Lunar New Year in Chinatown!

Rate: P1,500.00/head (inclusive of tasting menu and lotsa fun and surprises!)
      **Slots limited.Book early!

And if you happen to be participating this wonderful tour and/or would refer this to your friends/relatives, please don’t forget to tell Ivan you read it here on my blog.  Maraming Salamat po!  *wink*

23
Dec
11

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 : EN ROUTE TO PINAS

*This blog series includes : Christmas Break 2011 Day 2 : ULINGAN, TONDO

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16 December 2011, Thursday night.  I arranged a pick up from our place in Butterworth to Penang International Airport via SMS with an Indian taxi cab driver whom we frequently call whenever we need a ride prior to departure and arrival.  He came at around 7 in the evening and with the expected rush-hour-traffic jam, we arrived before 8PM at the terminal.  Dropping of our 49 kilo-luggages and bags was such a breeze because I did the online check-in already and had our boarding passes printed from the web days prior to our flight.  And because we’re on a very limited budget and value practicality above something else, we went home via Malaysia’s budget airline, Air Asia (May kamahalan na din ang nakuha naming ticket kumpara sa karaniwan at promo airfares dito –humigit-kumulang PhP 35K kaming tatlo, one way from Pen-KUL, then KUL-CRK).

I set to use my annual work leave in spending Christmas season in Pinas. I didn’t go home or utilized my paid days off else where (read : our breaks in Paris, New York and London *kidding!* I wish but we only went to Kelantan, Malaysia, Singapore and  Hatyai, Thailand this year were all enjoyed during public holidays) but saved it for the yuletide. After all, it is Christmas that Tina, Gabby and I consider as the most wonderful time of the year, the happiest season of all!

Despite Penang is only1545 miles away from the Philippines, there’s no direct flight yet to connect my current work place and our home. So it’s either you fly Singapore or Hong Kong first –which would cost you your arms and legs at this time of the year, or either take the cheaper but longer route by the bus or train or fly from Penang to Kuala Lumpur first that we usually do.

At the Penang International Airport which has on-going renovations (hey look, NAIA 1, terminals outside our country are on the road to improvement, and you?) we had dinner from one of Gabby’s favorite fast foods. It was a simple delight to have twister fries and quarter pounder before a flight. :)

After dinner, the waiting period began. Our local flight from Pen-KUL was supposedly 11:15PM but was delayed for 30 minutes. What can we do but bear with the waiting game. Are you fond of waiting for your flight/s at the airport?  I do except when it’s not on time. I mean, I maybe impatient at other matters but killing time at the terminals for me is not that bad.

We safely reached KL-LCCT after 45 minute flight. Everything’s fine except the looooong walk from the tarmac to the airport itself. The fatigue and lack of sleep were gone withe the sight of this heavenly food place that we’ve been wanting to try…

The Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Kuala Lumpur may not be one of the best, perhaps not even included in top 10 great terminals in the world and in my opinion has also its share of inconvenience but nontheless has decent choices of food places. We passed on Starbucks Coffee, Mary Brown Fried Chicken (Malaysia’s answer to KFC), and some other few but we failed to resist the charm of Theobroma Chocolate Lounge.

the ambiance is casual and inviting.

Forgive us for indulging chocolates before 2 in the morning. Sinful is it not? :D

Look, everything looked nice and tasted great too but they served the knife & fork with its tips exposed and the handles wrapped with tissues and before you wrongly judge Theobroma, let me inform you that this is a common practice in restaurants around Malaysia; and frequently, availability of tissues is a rarity in hawkers too! (read: I am not a foodie expert neither have a degree in culinary but my common sense dictates me that it’s best to wrap and cover the  parts you’ll put in your mouth rather than expose and drop it directly on the table. Spell HYGIENE and CLEANLINESS, people!).

Moving on…Tell me, how can you resist Theobroma’s Belgian Waffle with Ice Cream?

Me speaking to the waiter : “What are your bestsellers here? What can you recommend?”

Waiter pointing to the menu he handed us : “Ah, eto po ang masasarap, ok po ito, iyan…”

Me : “Ah, Kabayan! Saan kayo sa atin? Ano ba masarap dito?

the eyes tell you that they're sleep deprived but hungry. hehe! :)

Our verdict : The waffle’s tasteful! The strawberry slices rippled with chocolate were divine. And it’s so amazing that the scoop of ice cream took several minutes to melt which made us ask ourselves, is it gelato?

Gabby went to the counter and checked out the cakes. I believe he wanted Oreo chocolate cake but we were served with Orange Chocolate slice. We did not complain; I felt there’s no need to because we also wanted to sample such flavorful combo.

Gabby’s taste buds were a bit purist. When he wants chocolate, he wants nothing else. In fact, our kiddo doesn’t want any nuts when eating anything chocolate. But the cake was a delight for me and Tina. It reminded us of one of Haagen Dazs’.

Tina asked our kabayang-waiters (we talked to 2 of them-one serving us and the other at the counter) their recommendations. One of them highly suggested QUEEN OF ROCK AND ROLL.

Me asking Tina :” ‘ney, design lang ba iyong nasa cup or chocolate ripple talaga?

Tina : “ano ka ba, chocolate!”  –tapos ngumiti iyong waiter sa clueless moment ko.

We trusted our kabayang-waiter and the suggested cup doesn’t disappoint! Queen of Rock and Roll (left photo below) went to Gabby and he loved it! That chocolatey creamy drink indeed rocks! :) While Tina opted for a coffee-chocolate blend called MADAME ESKIMO which was beautifully served with a coffee bean on top. My lovely wife, despite sleep deprived was happy! :)

Thumbs up for Theobroma's blends!

As for me, I needed to have something warm; I settled for FLAT WHITE.

Sarap! Nakakawala ng antok!  Someone should bring home Theobroma Chocolate Lounge to NAIA Terminal 1 please!

The prices are comparable to Starbucks Coffee. Service is efficient. Goodies are yummies! :)

The Air Asia check in counter didn’t open until it was past 4AM. Maraming PASAWAY sa pila na ibang lahi. SINGIT! I didn’t allow them to get in over my queue. Our international flight from Kuala Lumpur to Clark Field, Pampanga was scheduled at 6:45AM. And so I thought, di ba 4 hours dapat bukas na ang airline counter kapag international flight?

Waiting, waiting and more waiting.  After few bladder and bowel breaks, yikes! (hey, it’s part of morning rituals, right?), we decided to spend our last hour prior to the flight and our few remaining ringgit in OLD TOWN WHITE COFFEE restaurant also in LCCT.

Tina and I had a plate each of this noodle dish that the name slipped my memory.

I may have forgotten its name but the taste was etched on my palate. Sarap! It’s so comforting to eat hot noodle dish in the wee hours of the morning.

I was fortunate enough to avail of our RETURN FLIGHT on the first week of January 2012 last April 2011 at its promo sale. It only costs me PhP 8K nett for the 3 of us with 40 kg check in luggage and I think that’s a steal! :) However, due to tight budget, I only purchased our airline tickets from Pen-KUL, then KUL-CRK last week of November for our Dec 16-17 flight. Understandably, most of the aircrafts servicing Malaysia-Philippines route are alreay full because of the  holiday season and prices of tickets are expectedly steep than usual. Nonetheless, come hell or high waters, Tina, Gabby and I have to spend Christmas in the country we call HOME.

From the arrival area of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), we claimed and paid our reserved bus tickets from the friendly ladies of Philtranco bus liner kiosk located at the lobby. I googled their website and did the reservation via email; a ticket from DMIA to SM Megamall (even up to Pasay City) costs PhP 400/pax.

The trip was only an hour and a half and everything went OK except for the traffic from Balintawak in Caloocan after NLEX to EDSA then Ortigas approaching SM Megamall. But hey, it ain’t home without the traffic! *pun intended*

The next morning, we savored one of our missed breakfast meals…

Nothing spells the Christmas celebrations better than spending it in your home country with your love ones. Walang katulad ang Pasko sa Pilipinas! :)

From Tina, Gabby and me, Maligayang Pasko po at Manigong Bagong Taon! :)

19
Dec
11

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 2 : ULINGAN, TONDO

18 December, 2011. Sunday. 2nd day of our days off from work in Penang. *Arrival and Day 1 to follow.

Prelude : People who have been chronically exposed to coal dust of about 15 to 2o years are at risk to develop COALWORKERS’ PNEUMOCONIOSIS also known as “black lung disease” which is a progressive and incurable disease. Imagine the plight of those babies, children and their families living in Ulingan.

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I tried to win the battle against the alarm of my mobile by curling up in bed a bit longer but my sleepy brain was telling me that I  needed to wake up at 4:15AM with the thought that I shouldn’t be late to my appointment on a very early Sunday morning.  Resistance as they say, is futile.  So after my quick but necessary morning rituals, I kissed my wife and our 7-year old son goodbye while they’re still dreaming and immediately hopped on a tricycle from my relatives’ place in Pasig City and rode a jeepney to LRT 2 Santolan Station. From there, I took the train for less than half an hour to Avenida, Recto Manila. One more jeepney ride and I found myself at the corner of Kalaw Avenue.

Because I left the house with an empty stomach, I felt the urgency to fill it in.  I surrendered to one of my favorite Jollibee breakfast meals -fried rice, egg, corned beef and coffee. Solb! :)

En route to our meeting place, I walked through Rizal Park (formerly known as Luneta Park back in my childhood). It’s  good to be back here after some time.

Glad to see you again, fellow MD –JPR.

To say that Rizal’s iconic is an understatement. The sight of his monument was so apt to further fire my willingness that day to participate in a medical mission of PROJECT PEARLS in Ulingan, Tondo, Manila. I had a chance to become a manggagamot again just like JPR in joining this worthwhile activity. Thanks to SIDNEY SNOECK  (a Belgian photojournalist whose heart is in the Philippines and thanks to his facebook account and his famous and award-winning blog, MY SARISARI STORE) that I got to know MELISSA VILLA (the soul behind the charitable organization) and PROJECT PEARLS.

I had arranged the schedule with him few days before my family and I left for Pinas.  Sidney and I met up in front of Manila Hotel at around 7AM and together we went to Ulingan in Tondo, Manila.

In my 35 years of existence, I have heard so much poverty in my country commonly personified by people of Smokey Mountain who thrive in rubbish. But it was only last Sunday when I saw and experienced the gospel truth behind issues I’ve read and heard. The sight was terribly haunting.

Sidney : “Doc, I’m sorry I failed to ask you to wear proper footwear. Your shoes will get muddy and dirty.”

Me : “Don’t worry, it’s already muddy even before we got here.” 

I should’ve been prepared to wear rubber boots (the ones worn by fishermen, wet market vendors, and the like) however, I had no hesitation to soak my shoes just to reach (out to) Ulingan.

Unbelievably, a community exists in this part of Manila.

ULINGAN is a small slum community in Tondo, Manila that sits on a dumpsite and surrounded by charcoal factories that emit toxic smoke; there is no electricity, no access to toilets or sanitation. Children and families have no choice but to live with soot, garbage, mosquitoes, flies all day and all night.  The common meal is “pagpag” (leftover food from fast-food restaurants scavenged from garbage sites). “Pagpag” means to shake away the dirt and maggots in the food.”  -sourced from the website of PROJECT PEARLS.

These are their homes– the abodes where they face life’s challenges, the houses where they build their dreams…

Sidney noticed the potted greens -proof that people of Ulingan still find time to make their surrounding a little pleasant despite and inspite of their condition.

This is their usual food, “pagpag” which is sold at PhP 15 per pack…

This is their common past time…

And this is how they make a living…

Sidney told me that children who work for their families in Ulingan remove the nails from the pieces of wood they collect from else where, then other workers would burn them under an "earth" where smoke is emitted day and night. It takes 2 days before charcoal is ready.

Before a sack of charcoal can be sold to about PhP 320 each….

the end consumer might be clueless that young and small hands were behind those uling...

Imagine breathing the smoke and living with the tons of rubbish day and night. Think of babies born by mothers within Ulingan with only midwife to assist and manage them. Life is unbearable but people here are probably the most resilient to tolerate such difficulties.

The main purpose of my trip to Ulingan began immediately after I was brought to the Project Pearls Learning Center.

Despite my heart was breaking at the sight of everything and everyone in Ulingan, inspite of the fact that my respiratory tract wasn’t getting along well with the polluted atmosphere in that community (I have not puffed a cigarette stick in my entire life but believe me, the feeling was probably worse than chronic smoking. I only spent half day in Ulingan but it also took me another six hours to breathe with less discomfort), I was silently jumping for joy upon seeing these…

Thank you to those who donated medicines for us to prescribe and dispense that day. May God bless us all!

*photo courtesy of ace photojournalist, Sidney Snoeck. Thank you, Sid! Mabuhay ka!

Assessing his frontal mass, apparently an infected wound with a complaint of pain and swelling in his mouth. Because we didn't have sterile instruments, I gave a referral note for surgical consult and management at a nearest hospital.

Do you remember the song, Paraiso sung and recorded by the group, Smokey Mountain and if I’m not mistaken, composed by Ryan Cayabyab?  The lyrics came to my mind when I was in Ulingan…

“Return to a land called paraiso,
A place where a dying river ends.
No birds there fly over paraiso,
No space allows them to endure.
The smoke that screens the air,
The grass that’s never there.And if i could see a single bird, what a joy.
I try to write some words and create
A simple song to be heard
By the rest of the world.

Their eagerness and enthusiasm to read and learn despite and inspite of everything are inspiring! Hope is alive in their hearts!

His eyes tell so much tales…

but his hands and feet certainly melted my heart…

As a father to our 7-year-old son, I feel so much for these kids. They’ve been exposed to unimaginable severities in life and were robbed of their childhood. Look at their eyes and peek into their souls…

It was a day that I will not forget for as long as I live.  Sidney was repeatedly thanking me before we left Ulingan but I told him the pleasure’s mine. Had it not for him and the organization he’s in, I will not be reminded to make the most of what we have, and MUST THINK BEFORE WE COMPLAIN because we are more blessed than people of Ulingan who certainly know how to SMILE AMIDST ADVERSITIES.

Thank you to all my fellow volunteers…

Thank you, Project Pearls, Ms. Melissa Villa and Mr. Sidney Snoeck for giving me a chance to experience this worthwhile endeavor.

Find me in a sea of unsung heroes. It's an honor to be with them! *photo courtesy of the awe-inspiring photojournalist and award-winning blogger, Sidney Snoeck.

Another wonderful shot by Sidney–this time with Lola Felissa, a 99 year old woman from Ulingan. It’s just amazing she’s still up and about, can still walk and stand straight as if she’s not in her late geriatric years!

One more year and Lola Felissa from Ulingan will be a centenarian! I have not even lived half of the years she enjoyed in life! Mabuhay ka, Lola Felissa! *photo by Sidney Snoeck.

Thank you for these priceless smiles that bid us goodbye…

You can make these children’s lives a little better through your donations and/or by supporting the activities of PROJECT PEARLS; contact the organization via their website at ProjectPearls.Org

——————

*This is the first of the series of our Christmas vacation in the Philippines; DAY 1 to follow soon.   May our CHRISTmas and holiday celerbations be happy and meaningful.  Let us always count our blessings!  God bless us! :)

28
Jan
11

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

Last year, I celebrated Chinese New Year here…

I strolled this charming street of Manila called  Binondo with a bunch of fellow bloggers; was my first time to appreciate dancing lions and dragons with people of common interest.

This year, I am excited to witness how Penang people observe such occasion. And who would not be excited if there will be a very loooooong holiday next week because of the event?

It’s holiday here in Penang on February 3, 4 (Thursday and Friday next week), and of course the fun, definitely will be carried over to the weekend, Feb 5 and 6! *hooray for paid holiday!*

Those dates will be perfect to see cultural shows on the streets and to be delighted with those ornaments of red and gold. Indulging in some dimsums and dumplings would be so apt too for the occasion.

Other than going to Georgetown next week, my colleague-friends and I will try to explore more of Pulau Pinang (Penang Island).  I just wish the weather will continue to cooperate (FYI, we only experience very occasional rains here unlike in Pinas; no storms for the past 6 months here for Malaysia is located outside typhoon-risk areas).

But more than anything, I am looking forward to PAYDAY (we only get our salary every end of the month).

Can’t wait to send remittance to Tina+Gabby.

Do you have plans on celebrating CNY?

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Be blessed and be safe! :D

—————————–O

28
May
10

UNUSUAL PASYAL

Guess where I took my kid for a walk?

Even my wife, Tina had no word to explain what got into me when I decided to bring Gabby to this park on one weekend morning.  Perhaps, I wanted a breather between our usual routine of going to malls, coffee shops and restaurants or maybe I just wanted our son to experience a different space that may enhance his appreciation of things. Either way, we both enjoyed our 30 minutes in Paco Park, Manila.

It has been ages since my last visit to Paco Park. It was during those Holy Weeks back in the early 80s when we started to accompany my mom in her annual Visita Iglesia in 30 churches (Yes, you read it right–thirty churches including St. Pancratius Chapel inside Paco Park; probably it’s also the reason why I sort of memorized the sidestreets and main thoroughfares of Metro Manila).

Paco Park was initially a cemetery. So when I told Gabby that I’m bringing him to a park and a former burial ground, he was puzzled and just shrugged his shoulders.

The charm of this former cemetery lies on its architecture. It’s circular in shaped with thick hollow walls; old as history.

In 1912, burial or interment at the Paco Park ceased. It had been the burial ground for several generations and descendants of those who were buried in the park had the remains of their ancestors transferred. (Sourced via Wiki)

Walking through these walls reminded me that change is inevitable. The previously built cemetery for aristocratic Spanish families has been accessible for years now as a recreational garden for all and at present can be enjoyed for as cheap as FIVE PESOS ENTRANCE FEE.

There’s an area formerly dedicated to angels…

But the most famous Pinoy secretly interred after his execution at Bagumbayan in Paco Cemetery is no less than Dr. Jose P. Rizal.  Note that his initials at the cross was written in reverse to hide his remains’ identity.

Gabby asked me who RPJ is and I just simply replied he’s our National Hero. Although I got 1.50 in Philippine History and 1.25 in Rizal, the subject (1.0 being the highest) back in my pre-Med days in FEU, I cannot explain his works and life in few statements to my almost-6-year-old kid; I’ll let him discover who Rizal is as Gabby studies Philippine History when he grows up.

The St. Pancratius Chapel inside Paco Park is one of the favorite wedding venues of most Pinoy couples. I think it depends on one’s perception of the place; either you feel creepy about it or be lured to its uniquely amazing aura.  Every Friday afternoon, there’s always a free concert held titled Paco Park Presents.

As our half-hour stroll in this park came to a close, it was then Gabby became more fascinated and at ease with it. He ran and jumped around the lifeless fountain; he sat and assumed his favorite yoga-like pose; and probably began to absorb a little sense of the place.

Gabby requested if he can have his favorite drink. So guess where we ended up our morning?  We went to the nearest mall, Robinson’s Place Manila and he savored a grande of chocolate frappuccino.

The odd weekend became usual again in a blink sip. :)

Have you been to Paco Park? What do you think of the place?

18
Feb
10

A WALK WITH DRAGON + LIONS

Mr. Sun was shining its brightest as everyone celebrated Valentine’s Day + Chinese New Year.   There was never a day better than last Sunday to take a walk through the streets of Manila China town. :)

I arrived at Manila Central Post Office fronting Liwasang Bonifacio, now known as Plaza Lawton, a few minutes before 10:30AM.  This majestic building served as our meeting place for Dong Ho’s  KaESKAPO sa Binondo.   

I was lucky to be chosen as one of the 5 among the many blogger-followers of  Dong Ho’s  ESKAPO  to explore Binondo on foot using The Big Binondo Food Wok  Map by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks.

The blog contest winners were selected based on Dong Ho’s querry :

 Why do you deserve this map and join this food trip ?

It was a pleasure meeting young breed of  fellow bloggers Chyng, Cher, Josh, and Ann (with her BF); all of us were recipients of this map from the Dong himself.  Although I was the most senior of the group,  it just felt like I was only with my students, less the toxicity of classroom lectures :D  We were all amazed how The Big Binondo Food Wok Map was conceptualized; it points out heritage trail and of course, the most interesting food shops in the heart of Manila, from the cheapest finds to the most upscale restaurants. The coupons in the map for some freebies were certainly not left unnoticed.

After a short briefing about the activity and a casual intro to ourselves, we started the walk that led to one-of-a-kind-Binondo trip.

I am not new to the place. I have been to Binondo and Ongpin areas up to Recto and Divisoria countless times actually.  But exploring it with  strangers  bloggers whom I haven’t met is a new experience for me and perhaps the same thing for them.  Gladly, we instantly gelled as we enjoyed several hours together.

We’re fortunate to witness a Dragon Dance just few steps from the gates of Manila China town after Escolta.

 We had a short stop at Binondo Church…

Then after I uttered my prayers, we headed off to Ongpin…

A festive welcome to the Chinese New Year isn’t complete without Lion Dances…

The colors of Ongpin and its side streets never fail to fascinate me… I’m sure my fellow bloggers were also delighted with such vibrant hues!

From freshest fruits to veggies, lucky charms and figurines; gold jewelries and more; almost everything is in Ongpin!

 

Although our son, Gabby had been to Ongpin more than a couple of times recently,  I’d also wished him to experience Chinese New Year in Binondo. But his mom and I agreed for them to stay at home to avoid too much crowd and all.  He’ll surely enjoy the celebration soon when he grows older.  

After a few steps and shots, we headed to our food tripping!  :)

Our first stop : the immediate left street at the back of Binondo Church for some remarkable dumplings!

It was only my second time to try DONG BEI DUMPLINGS – the famous KUCHAY or CHIVES DUMPLINGS of Binondo.   I’ve written something about these dumplings May of last year, after I’ve tasted them and compared with the same steamed delight from a Chinese resto in a mall (view HERE! )  The major difference : Dong Bei’s version is more flavorful but doesn’t have overpowering taste. Plus, you get to view how it is prepared…

Freshly made dumplings, anyone ?

Your options :  Plain Kuchay or Plain Pork;  Combinations of Kuchay + Pork (last year I had Kuchay + Shrimp) either steamed or fried; 13 -14 pieces for only PhP100+.  Guess what our team had? All of them! :D  Have you tried Dong Bei’s Kuchay Dumplings ?  How do you like them ?  

Their both best dipped in chili sauce!  Some of my co-bloggers didn’t like them that much, perhaps because it’s quite new to their taste buds or they’ve been more familiar with other Chinese dumplings than chives.

Dong Ho (not the owner of Dong Bei, LOL!) also introduced as to Dong Bei’s PANCAKES! These aren’t your usual pancakes served with butter + syrup *yum!* but it’s fried with stuffings of ….surprise –> Kuchay +Pork again! :D  But its thin fried dough was more sticky than the fried Kuchay dumplings and thankfully, both were less oily.  

And since I vowed with Tina and Gabby not to drink Coke and other sodas again (deliver us not into temptation, hehe!), I tried for the first time this Chinese iced tea on a can (but forgive me, although i hope it has less sugar, it’s carbonated too!)

My co-blogger Chyng didn’t like the canned Chinese cold tea that much; it was OK for my taste but nothing to rave about and would not cause you to crave for it.

After that quick bite at Dong Bei, the walk continued to the corner of Tomas Pinpin + Ongpin Streets where a shrine is venerated by Tsinoys.

SANTO CRISTO DE LONGOS

Note that incense sticks are used by the prayerful to adore the Holy Cross. It’s an apparent fusion of Catholic and Chinese beliefs.

Moving on… Do you like Tikoy ?  What’s a Chinese New Year without Tikoy a.k.a.  NIAN GAO / YEAR CAKES or Glutinous rice cakes ? What’s Binondo without horse-driven kalesas? (Note to Gabby :  We’ll ride kalesa one day either in Manila or in Vigan!)

My wife knows how we share the love for FRESH LUMPIA. :D  This made our next pit stop as one of my favorite food places we’ve been to.  I recall one of my  kind readers, JP recommended this when I posted SOMETHING  ABOUT  LUMPIA few weeks ago.

Tucked inside Uysubin Building beside HSBC, located along Quintin Paredes Street, is a courtyard where New Po Heng Lumpia House is.  

I guarantee you satisfaction from these freshly rolled Hokkien-style lumpia!  For only PhP 45 per roll, you can taste heaven in every bite! What I like about Chinese Fresh Lumpia is the inclusion of fried vermicelli + seaweeds and lotsa ground peanuts! It’s so delicious even sans sauce! I give my two-thumbs up to New Po Heng Lumpia! Definitely, it won’t be my last there; i’ll surely bring my family and friends there soon. :D

As we entered New Po Heng, we’re lucky to see the Ivan Man Dy in person on his last leg for that day on his Old Manila Walks.  Dong Ho introduced us to him and to my surprise, he said, “Oh you’re the doctor who joined Chuvaness’ contest. Did you win?”  I smiled back and said “No”  (It was another blog contest with his map and his TOUR as one of the top prizes–The question was : If you were a Chinese dish, what would you be and why?  My answer :  Chinese Fortune Cookie -Because I believe I am more than meets the eye).  I wasn’t only starstruck but was literally in awe because Ivan actually reads comments and entries! Wow! :D

Chyng had taken the chance to have photo-op with Ivan.  I was shy to do so. Perhaps when I and Tina find time to join his once-a-month-Malacanang tour.  Ivan is nice;  he even offered us tikoy, part of the freebies he was giving to his local and a few foreign tourists who joined his walk.

Another treat for us bloggers was when Ivan introduced the next guy to our table as the TUTUBI of  BACKPACKING PHILIPPINES AND ASIA. It was really one lucky day! :D

Still following some suggested heritage trail in The Big Binondo Food Wok Map, our group went to Ongpin again and went up flight of stairs to visit TE YA KONG TEMPLE…

Seeing almost all people in red, lighting incense sticks and praying, I can’t help but to admire the Chinese-Filipino community for their strong faith.

After several minutes, we’re on to our next merienda stop (I like the way we took this “NO-RICE”- Binondo Food trip; LIGHT & YUMMY) :  SHANGHAI FRIED SIOPAO!  Have you sampled one already ?  It’s more flavorful than ordinary siopao.

The Dong bought fried siopao for all of us and split the bill just before we part ways. We brought them to Eng Bee Tin restaurant where Dong Ho suggested to have refreshing avocado shake; but it wasn’t in season so we all went for the next best thing : mango shake! (I like riped mango). I just forgot to ask Dong Ho how much fried siopao a piece but the mango shake was so good at PhP 50+.

Then after another hearty snack, we’re on our feet again for our last pit stop… On way there, we passed by Plaza Calderon dela Barca right in front of  Basilica Menor del San Lorenzo a.k.a. Binondo Church…

I like fountains. (note to self : work for you to bring your family to Europe one day!).  The sight of dripping water somehow recharged me to walk a few kilometers from Binondo to Reina Regente, Recto and finally reached Narra Street at the back of Tutuban Mall where the biggest and grandest of Chinatown’s Buddhist temples…

 

SENG GUAN SI TEMPLE

The facade of Seng Guan Si Temple is already amazing but there’s more than that beautiful front this place of worship has to offer.

The first floor was awesome.  But the second floor of this temple was even more fantastic!  There was even an enormous section that’s probably considered as the most sacred of them all. I thought that part of the temple is comparable to the Catholic church’s Adoration Chapel.

It was indeed a loooong tiring day but believe it or not, I enjoyed it to the fullest! :)  Although I wasn’t with my family (Gabby + Tina), I’m glad to meet and gain new blogger-friends.  Thanks, Dom (a.k.a. the Dong Ho)!  Sa uulitin!  

We could not let the day pass without taking photos of ourselves of course! So meet my Ka-Eskapo sa Binondo :

from left to right : The Dong Ho and docgelo; right :  Chyng, Josh and Cher.  photos by Cher Cabula (thanks, Cher!) these photos were taken at New Po Heng Lumpia courtyard.

Newbie and young blogger, Ann with her BF Archie and on right photo, the Chinese charm Dong Ho got for each of us.

One last group shot before parting ways… photo by Dong Ho

You may want to view (again) my previous posts about this most interesting part of Manila called Binondo. Thanks! 

CHINESE NEW YEAR  2009  AT  MANILA CHINATOWN

ESTERO EATERY IN ONGPIN

WAI YING

MR. UBE

DONG BEI DUMPLINGS

BINONDO EXPLORED

JANUARY 2ND 2010 IN ONGPIN PART 1

JANUARY 2ND 2010 IN ONGPIN PART 2 : PRESIDENT’S  TEA HOUSE

10
Feb
10

PRELUDE TO CHINESE NEW YEAR

After an afternoon at the zoo, my wife suggested for us to have an early dinner in a restaurant an eatery in Ongpin last weekend;  I was too weak to resist! :D  

We went first to Sta Cruz Church, said our prayers and crossed the street.  It’s hard not to appreciate the beauty of Carriedo fountain (note to self : keep on dreaming for Europe).  However, just like Manila Zoo, I heard it’s also wailing for some maintenance and preservation.

Then we strolled from Sta Cruz Church to Manila Chinatown and  finally reached a hole-in-the-wall-Chinese fastfood.  Thank Heavens, we immediately spotted an empty table; an unusual sight at this very busy eatery.

Since our heartbeats increased after walking, first thing we ordered was something to chill us down. This fastfood’s version of Hong Kong Iced Tea is a champion! :D  It has finely shaved ice with thin slices of lemons that made it tasteful.  At PhP 50, it’s so refreshingly good and affordable too that I almost ordered another glass.   Tina reminded me that we’re observing utmost prudence on the budget, so I settled with the hot tea on the house; I smiled and did not complain. 

We saw chinky-eyed customers flocking in non stop;  a strong indication that this food place really serves best-tasting Chinese treats.  We didn’t waste time and told the wait staff our orders… And voila, less than 10 minutes, they arrived on our tables…

SIOMAI .   One of the best, if not the best-tasting siomai I’ve tasted!. It’s gloriously delicious.

Amen! :D

BOLA-BOLA SIOPAO is one of our common favorites.  Tina’s biased with Kowloon’s; I can’t blame her. But even Gabby liked the soft white bun of this fastfood’s siopao! The filling is its edge in contrast to other versions.  It has salted egg, strips of mushrooms, and a giant meat ball that’s so flavorful.

While we’re happy to try those 2 dimsums at its finest tastes, the next dishes suffered comparison from our favorite Chinese food places.

 

SHRIMP CHEONG CHONG FAN.  Tina and I had our initial taste bud’s exposure to this shrimp rice rolls 5 years ago in NZ.  Since then, it became our favorite. We usually order it whenever we eat Chinese. We love the version from LE CHING’S TEA HOUSE in Greenhills Shopesville and TirNoma and Shrimp Cheong fan from EMERALD GARDEN CHINESE RESTAURANT  in Roxas Blvd.  And because we’re used to generous servings of plump shrimps and its thick rice rolls from Le Ching, we’re a bit disappointed with this fastfood’s Cheong Chong fan. 

We barely tasted the shrimps because they were too small for bites; the rice rolls were too limp and thin, like the fountain and the zoo begging for improvement. :D  The saving glory was its sweet and salty soy sauce.

We also ordered rice toppings…

STEAMED CHICKEN MUSHROOM RICE (left) and SPARERIBS RICE TOPPINGS (right)

“Lasang Tinola” , my wife commented. :(  Tina, Gabby and I love Chicken Mushroom Rice, but again, our reference  was that of Le Ching’s so we find it quite different; gingery to be exact.  But I must state that their chicken serving is more generous.

I had the Spareribs Rice Toppings; ’twas fine. I was satisfied. :D I may order it again next time we visit…

It would be unfair if we won’t visit WAI YING again in Binondo to try their other yummies. I know a few more dine-in here would lead to its inclusion to the list of our favorites.  

:D Have you tried Wai Ying ? What’s your favorite from their menu?

:D Do you have plans already to celebrate this year’s CHINESE NEW YEAR VALENTINE’S ?

Last year, we had a blast; view HERE! and  HERE (you want to click it, don’t you? LOL)

For this year, I already have something in mind but we’ll keep it cheap simple; we’re CELEBRATING LOVE everyday anyway! :D 

——————————————————

WAI YING,927 Benavidez Street, Binondo Manila (From Sta Cruz’ Church go straight to Ongpin then turn right to Salazar Street (where President’s Tea House is located, then right again to Benavidez St).

09
Feb
10

ANOTHER VISIT

I give the credit to my wife, Tina who suggested we bring our son, Gabby back to a place that’s perhaps so familiar to you and me; feels like our relatives do exist there (pun intended)  hehehe :D

No, we did not go mall-hopping last weekend but instead revisited creatures that can remind us of our childhood.

The picture below can tell you that Gabby was too uneasy with the claws of this colorful feathered friend on his left shoulder, nevertheless still managed to smile for the cam (read : no coercion was done for him to smile, *wink*). :D

It has been years since we first brought him to KINDER ZOO –an interactive (read : guests can touch animals with guidance of zoo keepers) and it’s a more colorful zoo inside Manila Zoological and Botanical Park  a.k.a. the good old Manila Zoo that has been existing for more than 50 years, would you believe ? :)  When was your last visit to the zoo ?

Kinder Zoo is a smaller scale but with a higher rate of PhP 65 compared to the Manila Zoo’s entrance fee of PhP 40/adult and PhP 20/child below  4ft.  The 2 fees should be paid if you want to experience both and expect to see what your money’s worth.

For a family like us who have been fortunate to experience a few parks abroad, Manila Zoo suffered another comparison. :( Yes, we’re grateful that it is still on operations for more kids will be exposed to “most living things” quite up close, but a little more improvement and a huge reform on maintenance and cleanliness definitely won’t hurt.

Anyway, inside the Kinder Zoo, non living things like original Lego structures are installed…

Even Pooh, Piglet and Tigger can pose with you without a flicker, LOL! :D

Even Tortoise knows how to smile…

Manila Zoo still has its one and only large mammal…

Yes, she’s the same elephant you probably saw during your educational fieldtrips or ordinary visits to this zoo during your wonder years.

OINK!

Apparently, the zoo has improved through the years, but further development can be done to enhance it more. 

I know ecological balance can’t be totally observe in a zoo with cages and all but it’s a responsibility in a way for parents and adults like us to teach our kids about nature and get them exposed to it as close as possible.

VIEW MORE PICTURES  HERE.

03
Jan
10

ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE YEAR (PART 2)

we had some Chinese eats where else but in…

Did you notice the first letter N in the road sign?  It’s been there since God knows when, but no one exerts effort to correct it. Was it done intentionally to draw attention?  The little OC in me always kicks in whenever I see this in oNgpin, can someone enlighten me?  :D 

After my generous balikbayang-biyanan bought his Chinese medicine for arthritis (read : I have no idea what snake-bone-capsules can do to arthralgia or joint pains), we went straight to a food place to fill in our hungry tummies..

Upon seeing the first floor of the resto so packed because it was noon time, we headed to its second floor and occupied an 8-seater round table.  After few minutes, our orders came…

We passed on dimsum and dumplings and opted for thick Chinese soup and that complimentary house tea.

 

CRAB MEAT and SWEET CORN THICK SOUP, PhP 220+ for regular, PhP 357+ for medium, PhP 600+ for large order.  Since it was a lunch treat of my dad-in-law, I never had a chance to secure the receipt. 

Our benefactor (a.k.a dad-in-law) asked the waiter if they’re using artificial crab sticks or the real thing in their crab meat soup, and the waiter was honest enough to reply it’s really crab meat; thus the order.  As expected, it was satisfying!  I always love Chinese soup for its consistency more than taste.

Next to arrive on our table…

FRIED HOFAN with BEEF and SOY SAUCE.  This reminds me of Little Asia’s version (along Tomas Morato) but this resto’s hofan is oilier than the others. Although I have to admit I like the satay flavor of the entire dish! :D  And did I tell you that the beef strips are sooo tender and yummy?

Then came…stuffed CHEF’S SPECIALTIES!

TOFU (left).  I’m not sure who among us ordered this, but it’s absolutely delicious! ’twas so sublime with a surprise stuffing of mushroom and I think pork bits.

According to my in-law, there’s a resto in California that only serves dishes made of tofu! Can imagine how versatile and healthy this soya is?  FYI, if post-operative patients have no renal problems (read :BUN, Crea, Ammonia levels =normal), we recommend soya, tofu, taho intake to enhance wound healing other than vitamin C and Zinc (oops, am I too medical now?)

FRIED SEAFOOD ROLL (right). My wife, Tina ordered these rolls. They’re crunchy outside with stuffing of  bits of what esle but seafoods and some carrots in thin mayo somewhat like a seafood salad inside.  I like it but would not order on our next visit just to try other dishes  for it’s not the plate you’ll crave for over and over.

Gabby had a glass of iced tea and three of us had black gulaman, bottomless. :D

No one among us was interested in yang chow or other fried rice last weekend so we only had few cups of plain rice (honestly, i only had half a cup)  with our last plate…

MANDARIN CHICKEN.  It’s similar to Lemon Chicken but pineapples and oranges with sesame seeds were used instead of lemons to glaze the crispy coated chicken. 

I know President along Onpin Street itself, is far better than President Tea House located in Salazar Street, Binondo but the latter is more affordable which offers casual dining while the former has the finest of everything.  We may have dined at the cheaper resto nevertheless, it was indeed one beautiful Saturday lunch with the family! 

:D Have you tried President and/or President Tea House in Ongpin ? 

:D Have you tasted BINONDO in MAKATI  ?

:D I’ll try to bring my family soon to WAI YING, which I heard is also c0-owned by the people behind President.

:D  Do you know that the year of the TIGER will officially usher on Valentine’s Day that falls on a Sunday?

:D  Kita-kitz  sa Ongpin and dare to wear red on V-day to CHASE THOSE DRAGONS  once more ? 

:) Let’s see.

————-

PS :  You may click the last photo on the right to make it bigger and view 2 beggars with kids following my balikbayang-biyanan in green asking for some coins. Ugh! When can we be more than third world ?

03
Jan
10

ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE YEAR (PART 1)

with less traffic and while everyone was still enjoying the holiday spirit, we went here….

Tina, Gabby and I with my in-laws — docBibs (my wife’s sister) and Daddy Larry (who’s on vacation here from San Leandro, Ca)  roamed almost the entire Chinatown in search for good food and best buys. You might be thinking that my family was in the spending mode and I’ve already disregarded my annual wish to save, save and save (so help me, God!) as early as the second day of twenty ten but we just accompanied my dad-in-law to buy himself Chinese medicine for arthritis that he heard (not from me, definitely) from his friends who have been using such.  He also had a taste of what Manila has been since he left it decades ago.

We got the snake-bone-in-capsules (read : I am not yet prescribing and am not aware of effects) in this drugstore across DONG BEI (where the freshest kuchay dumplings are and I am so recommending!) in Yuchengco Street, at the back of Binondo Church..

 A walk through Binondo and Ongpin Streets in Manila is always amusing…

For a healthy start, here’s a cart full of veggies found usually in sidewalks…Cauliflower sells for PhP 40 per kilo, sarap sa chopsuey!

or fibrous and vitamin-rich, fresh fruits;  they’re very round too! perfect to attract prosperity for New Year!

Are you fascinated with chestnuts roasting on an open fire ?

Tina and I asked the manong about cooking kastanyas.  The small and black pebbles which are warmed in oil prevent the chestnuts to stick together during roasting and sugar is added to make everything sweeter.  Entire roasting lasts for about half an hour before they sell it for PhP 120/kg.   We bought 2 kilos. :D

This altar of a cross with Chinese incense sticks and sampaguita leis with red ribbons (not the bakeshop but for good luck!) never fails to draw attention veneration. Imagine Catholicism and a bit Chinese beliefs unite to strengthen a community!

Gabby wasn’t complaining of our walk from Binondo all the way to Ongpin. He even managed to grin when my generous balikbayang-biyanan bought 2 boxes of  tikoy or glutinous rice from a stall vendor who also sells dried seafoods. See those huge packs of hibe (dried shrimps)?  It made me crave for ginisang monggo.

 

Among those Oriental charms and ornaments we saw in Ongpin…

I fell in love with this…

It’s a smiling-fiberglass-Buddha in jade color that stands more than 2 feet.  I like it’s almost perfectly round stout belly that believed to bring best luck when rubbed.  :D  It’s affordable at PhP 4,800. And if only we have extra budget for unnecessary things, we’ve brought it home in a blink.  :P 

Our Daddy Larry didn’t buy a Buddha statue but two cats and a tiger (2010 is a Tiger year).  He also didn’t forget to buy my lovely mom-in-law who was left with their kids in Ca, a little surprise pasalubong…

Gold loop earrings as big as a peso coin that weigh almost 3 grams; I’m sure my mom-in-law will be delighted. :D

Now, what’s this blog  a trip to Binondo and Ongpin without eating Chinese ?

  –that will be on my next post!  :D

:D What do you like best in Ongpin and Binondo?  

:D Is there anything you hate about Manila Chinatown?

13
Dec
09

LEARNING BEYOND BOOKS

08 December, 2009, Tuesday — After we had a hearty late lunch in a classic Chinese restaurant, EMERALD GARDEN in Manila, we explored a place that is exclusively dedicated to fun and learning. :D

My wife, Tina and I usually maximized our days off from work by spending extra quality time with our preschooler son, Gabby.  And whenever we go out, we always make sure that Gabby will enjoy.  Just a couple of weeks ago, we went to PHILIPPINE SCIENCE CENTRUM in Riverbanks, Marikina City and seven days back we had another special trip to MUSEO PAMBATA in Roxas Blvd., Manila.

This interactive children’s museum allows visitors, both kids and young-at-hearts to touch exhibits, play and experienced everything hands-on. It’s a place that encourages a total-senses-child learning.  I believe in that too –I always tell my nursing students and reviewees that ‘learning is easy when all senses are utilized’.

Since Museo Pambata was only established in 1994 when Tina and I were already college students, we had no chance to be there during our wonder years.  Nevertheless, it isn’t too late to become a kid again; not that we’re having 2nd childhood already, heck no! we’re too young to have dementia and all, LOL :D But with Museo Pambata, the kids in us were unleashed once more! :D

Illustration above via MUSEO PAMBATA.

Who says learning can’t be fun? :D

The museum is divided into several sections : PAMILIHANG-BAYAN / Market Place,  PAGLAKI KO / Career Options, KATAWAN KO / Body Works,  TUKLAS!/Science Through Discovery, MAYNILA NOON / Old Manila, KALIKASAN/Environment, and many more.

I personally found the MARKET PLACE as most amusing.  Kids can assume to tend a store or pretend shopping in wet and dry sections or perhaps in a shoe or drug stores.

In PAGLAKI KO / Career Options, Museo Pambata gives children a bird’s eye view of work opportunities when they grow old.  Gabby enjoyed becoming a community worker for a while…

Money matters! :D Even kids should learn that hard-earned money should be valued at all cost.

There’s a small section near the Market Place where kids get to feel how it is to be in rural areas of the country…

While the Market Place seemed the most amusing, KATAWAN KO /Body Works section’s the most interesting for us. :D  Just like in the old  Science Centrum years ago, there’s a similar version of those anatomical parts in humongous scales! It’s hard to resist not to go through the exhibit’s main entrance – a wide-mouth! One will pass through it down to esophagus, stomach, and intestines and out to you-know-where! :D

In TUKLAS / Science Through Discovery, there are similar pieces that we’ve seen already in PHILIPPINE SCIENCE CENTRUM but Museo Pambata’s versions are more well-maintained; thus, more inviting for visitors.

What’s a museum without retelling a history ?  On the first floor of the museum are 2 fascinating exhibits — KALIKASAN / Environment on the left side, and on the right, MAYNILA NOON / Old Manila.  

Have you seen a small scale of Binondo Church or Basilica Minor de San Lorenzo Ruiz? FYI, It’s a nice replica where visitors can go inside and take pictures of the church. :D  This section of Old Maynila also brings back museum goers to the era of Galleon Trade and the days when Meralco Tranvia de Manila was still one of the modes of transportation in Manila.  Sayang, authorities could have kept this tram until now for people to appreciate and still serve its purpose like the tram in San Francisco. Oh,well, at least we have the LRTs now. :D 

Who says learning history is always boring ? :D

I cannot imagine Pinoy History without Dr. Jose Rizal, Katipunan and the evolution of flags…

The old Pinoy house, furnitures and all also caught our interest…

Some important aspects of Mother Nature is replicated at the section called KALIKASAN /Environment…

Do you agree with me that every Pinoy kids should be brought to this fun place ?  I wish parents are reading this post.

Have you been to Museo Pambata ?  How was your experience ?

MUSEO PAMBATA, Roxas Boulevard corner South Drive, Manila (It’s beside US Embassy in Manila and at the end corner of Kalaw Ave. and Roxas Blvd.)  Entrance fee is PhP 100 for kids and adults, walk-in. Teachers with valid ID are free; Manila residents are given discount.  Museum is closed every Mondays.  Museum hours : 8AM-5PM (Aug-March) and 9AM-5PM (April-July).

07
Oct
09

SPONGEBOB LOVE

On his first birthday, he wore a muti-colored-custom-made clown costume because my wife and I decided to have a Finding Nemo themed birthday party at home with our parents, relatives, friends. He then matched the real clowns present on his day.

His second birthday party was done at McDonald’s Greenhills.  He had two birthday cakes and more than 50 guests.  Grimace, the mascot graced the occasion.

My wife, my parents and I only went to TriNoma mall in Quezon City with him and had dinner at a Filipino restaurant called Mangan with his 3 mini-cakes that we bought from Breadtalk on his third birthday.

He went to preschool before his fourth.  Since then, he already has his own preference.  At his Nursery class, he had Mr. Bean themed party complete with party hats and all that’s fun.

For his fifth birthday…  

The THEME : Someone who lives in a pineapple under the sea! :D

The INVITES…IMG_4063We were working on a budget and my wife can’t tolerate crowded stinky places as she easily feels dizzy, worse her vertigo might be triggered,  not to forget she wasn’t off from duty at the Opeating Room, so I was alone when I went to the basement of Divisoria Mall in Manila  just to buy these fancy invites for PhP 2 per piece.  168 Mall didn’t have the supplies I was looking for.

I grew up going to the streets of Ylaya, Tabora and Juan Luna in Divisoria every start of a new school year with my parents, whenever they buy us (me and my 3 brothers) new sets of things for school : from socks, undergarments, hankies, etc. in some Chinese-owned wholesale store.  So buying stuffs for my own kid now and haggling were so damn easy for me. :D    

The LOOT BAGS…IMG_4118I honestly thought of having paper instead of plastics for the loot bags as I am concerned, believe it or not, with the environment.  But I failed to find commercially available paper bags with the prints in line with the party theme and I and my wife had no time doing art works made of paper just for the loot bags. These cost PhP 20 per 10 pieces (also PhP 2 a piece).

What’s inside the loot bags? Each has a hand towel (PhP 75 per dozen) , a pencil (PhP 15 per dozen), a pad of stickers (PhP 3 per pad) and  a plastic sheet of stickers (PhP 2.25 per sheet), fruttos candies, marshmallows and lollipops (PhP 120 for 5 packs from the Landmark in TriNoma), and…. that’s it!  We’re on a budget, remember? LOL :D 

The CAKE…IMG_4164I guess for every Pinoy-children’s party,  Goldilocks cake doesn’t disappoint.  This choco-marble-flavored Spongebob- fishing-for-Jellyfishes-theme (less the Jelly fishes for they ran out of stock and were replaced with gold choco coins with my consent–didn’t I just tell you they don’t disappoint? LOL) :) was ordered 2 weeks ago at a branch near our place for PhP 855;  inclusive of the cake and the themed decor.  It’s a bit expensive for a low-key party but heck, what’s a themed party without a themed cake?

The FOOD…IMG_4136The party meal was prepared, cooked and packed by my wife, Tina (applause, applause!). The photo above doesn’t give justice to how the food tasted. Those breaded chicken fillets were deep fried to its crispiest; and the macaroni in beefy sweet tomato sauce was also a winner.  The kids loved it.

Did I do any cooking? Hmmm, I did slice the hotdogs into pieces and, believe it or not again, I cooked the gravy!  I just mixed flour in water, heated the pan with water, 3 chicken cubes, soy sauce and a bar of Anchor butter into boil and voila! - chicken gravy tasted better than Jollibee’s, LOL.  The kids loved it too!

The GIFTS…IMG_4173His classmates were sweetest to give presents. It’s a mutual thing between them. :D

The PARTY PEOPLE…IMG_4155….Children are a gift from the Lord! 

Our smiles went up to our ears when we heard comments, “ang sarap!…, ang cute ng cake!… ang sarap ng food!”  from these kids.  You know children don’t tell lies :D

The BIRTHDAY BOY…IMG_4146

Our son’s birthday wish for a Spongebob Squarepants themed party was granted. Thanks to the mighty forces behind the successful simple event -myself and my wife :D 

Seriously, we thank the Lord for His endearing Love and we can’t thank Him enough for blessing us with Gabby.

On our part, we always pray for Gabby to have a better health- away from any sickness and for him to be safe at all times.  

Gabby :  (while on his facebook) Daddy, ano pong spelling ng THANK YOU?

Tatay-doc : :D

We love you Gabby! 

:D What’s your fondest memory of your own kiddie party?Don’t you just miss being a kid?

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02
Oct
09

PANIC SI MISTER, PANIC SI MISIS

This was the scene at Landmark Supermarket in TriNoma, Quezon City today when we did our not-so-ordinary weekly grocery shopping at around half hour past 3 in the afternoon…

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I asked the cashier and the bagger who assisted us if this was the picture since morning. They told me that shoppers came in troops since last week.

Everyone was in PANIC mode or perhaps just like us, only wanted to BE PREPARED for the  typhoon Pepeng.  After what Tropical Storm Ondoy had done to Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces, most Pinoys have learned lessons from Nature (I hope so).   We need not to be  former boy or girl scouts to be always ready with everything; or to be somenone with OCD/Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to be most concerned and anxious at anything.  Preparedness is the key to these calamities.  Remember it wasn’t raining when Noah built his ark.

IMG_4062In as much as I wanted to buy tons of food stuffs, our weekly budget wouldn’t allow :(  It’s also bad to  hoard too much supplies because other people might be left with nothing. So we only had this push cart and waited for 30 minutes at the queue to the cashier.

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We’ve enough supplies of candles and batteries at home so much of the items we bought were all to secure our tummies for the next few days.  I wish we also have extra budget to buy relief goods for the afflicted people from the wrath of Ondoy last week. We have donated old clothes and will give more next week. I wish to join medical missions but I can’t risk my family’s security these days. I just have to be with them.

I and my wife, Tina with our 5-year-old son, Gabby join the entire nation in praying fervently that our homes will be spared by the effects of typhoon.  Kaya po natin yan, basta’t sama-sama!

On the lighter side, we can’t resist but to click our cam on these miniature pumpkins…

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We were delighted to see something literally cute despite the situation..

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We just failed to ask how much a piece or a kilo.  Nevertheless, the sight of these pumpkins was enough to make us smile, ask Gabby…  :D

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Seriously, Let’s continue reaching out…  LET’S ALL  UNITE in PRAYERS. 

May the Good LORD bless us ALL.

Be safe.

21
Sep
09

DUSIT THANI : REVISITED

September 20, 2009 – Two days after my 33rd birthday, my wife, Tina gave me her present : a confirmed reservation for the two of us, with our son, Gabby who eats for FREE at Dusit Thani’s Family Sunday Brunch Buffet! It was our second time to experience such gastronomic adventure in 4 different themed restaurants of Dusit : Benjarong – Thai;  Basix -Asian-Continental;  Tosca-Italian;  Umu -Japanese; Our first dining experience of such epic proportions at Dusit was only last March and can be viewed here; it was such a blast, we had so much fun! :D 

After I have donated blood last Thursday at St. Luke’s Medical Center, as my humble charity work for my birthday, and revisited Bellini’s with my family on the day when I turned a year older, this buffet brunch is more than enough.  For the moment, life cannot be better than this! :D

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We both love Dusit; it’ll be forever memorable for the 2 of us, because 2 sections of its ballroom served as our wedding reception venue more than five years ago. And the brunch we had  six months back was so remarkable that we promised ourselves that we’ll try and explore other dishes some time.  We even spread the word about this Family Brunch Buffet to our colleagues and friends. :D

We arrived at the hotel lobby at 11AM exactly half an hour before buffet starts. After paying PhP 1450 nett per pax, the friendly staff gave our wrist bands that rendered access to those 4 fantastic restaurants in Dusit Thani.  We also got a chance to roam around the Japanese garden opposite Umu while waiting…

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We like those kois on the pond and that man-made waterfalls…

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We shot photos of Gabby at every ‘road signs’ heading to those 4 restos which he enjoyed so much! 

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Though she likes Basix, my wifey chose to reserved a table for 3 at Umu for she knows that I like the ambiance of that Japanese restaurant; not to disregard the fact that I’m excited to eat Umu’s teppanyaki again! 

Who can resist the beauty of Umu?

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Its contemporary Japanese interiors is so inviting.  With those wooden tablets in black with gold Japanese characters, and a sushi-sashimi station at the center, and a classy atmosphere, everyone is easily drawn to its charm.

After being ushered to our table by a purple-Kimono clad staff, Tina and Gabby went to Basix to get some yummies, while I walked straight to an area in Umu to get some of these…

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At the Teppanyaki section, you have the freedom to choose the ingredients you’d like the chef to grill for you at his teppan – from the freshest beef cubes which I skipped;  to thinly sliced veggies, bean sprouts, mushrooms, shelled tiger prawns, pink salmon and lapu-lapu…A dash of salt and pepper and other Oriental seasoning and oil, voila!  

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My teppanyaki plate from Umu is always a personal favorite! I just love how those fresh seafoods are grilled to perfection!

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I also got goodies that were deeply fried upon request :  prawn and bacon which was sooo good! and ham and cheese, eggplant on sticks. 

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I didn’t pass the chance to try another favorite from Umu : SUKIYAKI :D   Look how those bowls of very tender marbled beef and stock with veggies and soft tofu are prepared…

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The glass noodles were soft and thick; the soup itself was never too sweet, neither too salty… Sarap!

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Unlike Sukiyaki from other Japanese restos, Umu’s version doesn’t disappoint because of its almost fatless beef.  Isn’t it obvious that I really like Umu? LOL :D

Other delectable must-try are :  (from left to right)  Tamago rolls, Ika Karaage,  Salad, Cold Soba…

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What’s a Japanese restaurant without sushi and sashimi ?

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On way to Basix, there’s a lady dressed as Thailander who played the string instrument, Khim.

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Basix has this relaxed and cool ambiance…

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Tina and Gabby brought to our table at Umu this plate from Basix…

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I was informed by the chef at Umu’s Teppanyaki section that Ebi Tempura’s cooking was transferred to Basix.  Because it’s one of Gabby’s favorites, Tina got him generous servings of those battered shrimps. It’s not the best tempura we’ve tasted but nonetheless, OK.  The mussels from Basix were bordering from tasteful to bland;  still we favor Circles Events Cafe of Makati Shangri la when it comes to New Zealand Mussels. :D

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When I went to Basix, I got a slice of Roast Beef and 2 wrapped rolls of Peking Duck.  Peking Duck tasted fine, but I wish they can improve the Roast Beef’s mushroom gravy into a thicker consistency and making it more flavorful.

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There are tons of choices to choose from the spread at Basix;  the buffet duration of 11:30 AM to 3PM is just not enough! Too many food, so little time, LOL :D

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What makes Dusit Thani’s Sunday Family Crossover Brunch creatively unique compared to other Live-cooking / open-kitchen buffets in other hotels is that diners in Dusit can burn calories immediately after munching.  How? One has to walk from the base-station of choice (for us :Umu!) to the other 3 themed restos.  I view it as Dusit’s advantage rather than its opposite.  Diners may take the grand winding stairs, or on our case, who were tooooo lazy to walk, take the lifts to go to the mezzanine where Benjarong and Tosca are located.  At the lobby, there are interesting characters to cheer up kids and the kid-at-hearts –  just like this smiley stilt-walker who’s always ready for a photo-op :D

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Being a Thai hotel in Manila, it’s not surprising that Dusit Thani’s Benjarong boasts of ambiance that’s so elegant and enticing to the senses. The entrance to Benjarong has a wall adorned with ceramics that will lead you to the main dining area.

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But, I guess my palate isn’t partial to Thai dishes, whether mild, or super spicy. I only like their desserts.

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YAM SOM O : Pomelo Salad,  and YAM PLA DOOK FOO : Crispy Fried Catfish with Green Mango Salad 

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YAM SAI KRAWK BACON THOD : Spicy Bacon Wrapped Sausage

MEE KROB KRATHONG : Sweet and Sour Crispy Vermicelli in Pastry Cup.

My Thai plate had a bit of everything…

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I like those Thai sweet treats with coconut milk and glutinous rice…

KHANOM TAKO : Sweet Water Chestnut and Coconut Cream in Pandan Cup -> sarap!

KHANOM SOD SAI : Stuffed Glutinous Flour Ball with Grated Coconut and Sugar -> yum!

KHAO NIAO MAMUANG : Ripe Mango with Sticky Rice -> I love mangoes; i like rice! Tasted like bico.

Let’s leave Benjarong and allow me to take you to TOSCA, the Italian Restaurant of Dusit Thani in Makati…

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Tosca is noted for its sophistication and class… the atmosphere is made subdued and comfy by a musician who plays the piano while diners enjoy some of the best Italian cuisine…

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FREE FLOWING ITALIAN SPARKLING WINES, anyone ?  This is another edge of Dusit Thani’s buffet. In other hotels,  rates do not include beverages, but in Dusit, you can enjoy Italian wine flavored with either Dalandan or Raspberry to your hearts content! Other drinks available are Lemongrass Juice from Benjarong, Iced Green Tea from Umu, Dalandan and Raspberry Juices from Basix all in bottomless servings! Plus the staffs are always ready with smiles, which I most like!

There are wide array of food to be cooked and prepared upon request, from pasta to pizza, to salads and more. 

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I so wish our stomachs are bottomless too, LOL :D  We can only eat as much. :D

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I asked one of the chefs in Tosca to prepare me a personal-sized pizza. As he began to knead the dough I requested all toppings available except for olives. Tina and I aren’t fanatics of olives.  He politely told me to return after 5 minutes as he bakes my pizza.  It was delicious; the bread alone can stand sans toppings!  As I enjoyed the pizza freshly made from Tosca, I failed to savor other Italian dishes like that Turkey Breast Stuffed with raisins and sage on roasted tomato cream (photo beside pizza); it looks delicious as well.

One rule that Tina and I have learned from buffets :  MAKE ROOM FOR DESSERTS !

After my wife entrusted Gabby to the very accomodating staffs of KIDS’ STATION at the lobby, Tina and I became so busy with desserts… (Gabby opted to play and watch his favorite cartoons, Spongebob rather than stuffed his tummy like his parents, LOL).   We had ice cream from Tosca, as we look upon Gabby.   

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DESSERTS from TOSCA : DIVINE!

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DESSERTS from BASIX : SUBLIME!

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Care for some D-I-Y  HALO-HALO or CHOCOLATE FONDUE that tastes like Hershey’s?

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While Gabby became occupied with having his face painted for FREE, Tina and I sat at Basix and had blueberry and mango crepes!  I had mine topped with almond flakes.  

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BENJARONG SWEETS : EXQUISITE…

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DESSERTS from UMU :  TOOTHSOME…

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Half hour before 3PM, we took time to photograph Gabby with the friendly balloon-maker and the man on stilts…

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It was another memorable fun day with my family.  What a way to welcome my 33rd year!  The buffet was only icing on the cake;  I am so grateful to our good Lord for my family’s health and safety.  I am just thankful for having Tina and Gabby!  :D 

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We love Dusit Thani’s Sunday Family Crossover Brunch! :D

Dusit Thani Manila, Ayala Center, Makati City/Tel (63-2) 867-3333 Every Sunday 11:30 AM to 3:00PM/ PhP 1450 nett for adults/PhP 725 nett for children 6 to 12 years old.

24
Aug
09

OMAKASE : IT’S UP TO YOU

I don’t know about you but I love SUKIYAKI. I never missed to try having that warm broth everytime we eat Japanese.  That sweet soyed stock that fused well with tender beef strips and some veggies, glass noodles and the softest tofu, served with a fresh egg  is always a comfort food for me especially on a rainy cold weather.  And Omakase’s sukiyaki, may not be the best in the Metro, but was still good to satisfy my craving for that soothing soup :D

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I’ve read quite a number of posts about this Japanese restaurant in Intrepid Plaza, Libis, Quezon City called Omakase but it took months and for them to have another branch in Il Terrazo, Tomas Morato before we sampled some of its must-try goodies.

Omakase (お任せ?) is a Japanese phrase that means “It’s up to you” (from 任す, entrust).

The expression is used at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef. It differs from ordering à la carte. The chef will generally present a series of plates, beginning with the lightest fare and proceeding to heaviest, richest dishes. The phrase is not exclusive to service of raw fish with rice, and can incorporate grilling and simmering as well.Customers ordering omakase style expect the chef to be innovative and surprising in the selection of dishes, and the meal can be likened to an artistic performance by the chef. Ordering omakase can be a gamble; however, the customer typically receives the highest quality fish the restaurant currently has in stock at a price cheaper than if it was ordered à la carte. From the restaurant’s perspective, a large number of customers ordering omakase can help in planning for food costs. —>SOURCE.

Last Saturday’s lunch was another new foodtrip experience for us.  My wife Tina, our son Gabby and I went to Il Terrazo again, to try the much-talked about sushi from OMAKASE.

Isn’t that maki made of kani or crab meat,  topped with fish roe or ebiko with sesame seeds and that so flavorful salmon skin just perfect ?  It might not be an authentic Japanese maki or it’s only a delicious fusion of East-meets-West cuisine, but heck, it now officially reigns supreme on my list! sarap! :D

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This is what they call JURASSIC MAKI, PhP 280+.

I was geared to order JCS : Jurassic, Crazy and Seabreeze Maki, a platter of combination of 3 specialties from Omakase but my queen begged off.  Tina thought that we might not finish everything on that monstrous servings and having sushi as to-go would not be a good idea as sushi and sashimi are ideally eaten fresh immediately once served.  So I obediently reserved the other makis to our furture visits.

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How can you resist those salmon skins on that Jurassic maki? IMG_3382

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To make it even more tasty, a plate of Omakase’s Jurassic maki is served with a thick sauce similar to soy sauce & mayonnaise consistency, but I am guessing it’s more than those two ingredients.  Sans this sauce, Jurassic maki is still superb.  6

And there’s my favorite SUKIYAKI, PhP 250+.  The best Sukiyaki I’ve tasted was from UMU at DUSIT THANI’s FAMILY SUNDAY BRUNCH but as I’ve stated, Omakase’s version does not disappoint.

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Our 4-year-old son Gabby was excited to add in the fresh egg to the medium-sized bowl of that warm Sukiyaki.  He really dreams of becoming a chef one day, lol.

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Gabby enjoyed 7 out of 10 pieces of these KANI TEMPURA, PhP 145+IMG_3368

I asked my wife is she wanted to try the rice bowl toppings of Omakase or the other entrees from the menu, but she decided to eat light (believe me, this was one of our lightest meals, lol) that day and settled for SEAFOOD DUMPLINGS, PhP 250+.

The  SEAFOOD DUMPLINGS are also a must-try from Omakase.  It’s a combination of fish and other calcium and iodine-rich ingredients wrapped in nori  deep-fried to its crispiest.  Its  sauce is different from that of takoyaki we sampled from Hana at Little Tokyo and from food stalls everywhere. IMG_3377

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It was indeed another satiating and heart warming food trip! :D

OMAKASE JAPANESE CUISINE, UG Il Terrazzo, Sct Madrinan, corner Tomas Morato.

02
Aug
09

PINOY ART & LRT PART 2

Barely a month ago, I posted an entry about an art contest conducted by LRT Authorities that featured Filipino life inside the train that makes public transportation in some areas of Metro Manila readily accessible.  View my former post here —>   PINOY ART & LRT .

Unexpectedly, it was still on display; so I got a chance to view the exhibit again yesterday at the LRT Araneta Center-Cubao station as I went to Gateway mall.  I’ve clicked my cam to note the titles of the masterpieces and the names of the remarkable Pinoy painters. 

Take a peek at the entries and see the frame that championed the contest as you scroll down this post. Enjoy!  

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Daytoy Iti Biag Ko by Isagani P. Carlos, acrylic on canvas

If you’re a Filipino and you’re Catholic, you’ll surely admire how the artist of the painting below depicted our faith. 

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Last Trip ni Sante, Kalong Munting Bro by Godofredo F. Zapanta, Sr., oil on canvas

The next entry gave me a smile.  As a father to our preschool son, I can relate to this simple art work.      

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Kaagapay sa paglalakbay by Dean Mark Enoza, acrylic on canvas.

It’s nice to see Araneta Coliseum, the clock tower of Manila City Hall and Rizal monument in Luneta together in one canvas.  These places are reachable within 20 minutes via LRT…

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Ayan na ang tren! by Marvin D. Gonzales, acrylic on canvas.

I like the use of primary colors in this abstract…

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Sulong Pilipinas – Lalarga din Tayo by Patrick B. Fernandez, acrylic on canvas.

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Agos Enerhiya by Joseph S. Domirez Jr.,  acrylic on canvas.

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LRT, Kabalikat ni Juan sa Kaunlaran by Ronald L. Jeresano, acrylic on canvas.

And the painting that won GRAND PRIZE

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Sakay na rin po kyo  by Mario B. Panis,  oil on canvas.

Hats off to all Filipino artists! Thank you for sharing your talents. Mabuhay po kayo! :D

23
Jul
09

FOOD PORN PROMO

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It was like all the constellations of stars and the galaxy of planets in the entire universe conspired that our overdue plan to dine at SPIRAL in SOFITEL PHILIPPINE PLAZA MANILA  finally pushed through last Tuesday.

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It was another gastronomic experience; a real feast to the sense!

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Anorexia was never in my vocabulary but  food enthusiasm!  I am just grateful that I am married to a nurse who thinks and eats the same wavelength as I do.  :) And thank Heavens we’re blessed with a son who at his young age, already developed the appreciation for good food (He wants to become an iron chef someday).   My wife Tina, our four-year old-son Gabby and I have been to some of Manila’s remarkable open-kitchen-buffets in hotels and a mall  (click each item to view my previous posts)… 

1. CIRCLES EVENTS CAFE at MAKATI SHANGRI LA HOTEL

2. DUSIT THANI’S  FAMILY SUNDAY BRUNCH

3. HEAT at EDSA SHANGRI LA HOTEL

4. DAD’s ULTIMATE BUFFET inludes SAISAKI and KAMAYAN

It’s hard to compare one with the other because all of them are a delight to the senses.  I know that to spend more than usual these days is considered vulgar for the fact there’s global economic crisis, but life is damn too short to let these beautiful chances pass.  We’re just fortunate to experience these beyond words (gluttonous grin) :D   Going to open-kitchen-buffets in hotels has been a little scary for me, because it’s habit-forming, lol.  But can you blame me?  

I first learned about Sofitel’s SPRIAL Mad Mondays and Thrifty Tuesdays  50% discount promo from one of the blogs I follow.  And it was really a perfect timing to EAT, CELEBRATE and BE MERRY for one of our colleagues will depart to Riyadh next week to work as a medical practitioner; so it was like a despedida for her but on a dutch treat, (read : KKB / kanya-kanyang bayad, lol).

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promo ad photo sourced from chuvaness.

Sofitel’s SPIRAL + 50% discount + family & friends =EUPHORIC BLISS!

Tina made the reservation for 5 adults and one kid (our son/their godson) exactly 7 days prior to our dinner date.  We met our friends and at around 4:30PM, we’re at Sofitel lobby already. Since we’re an hour and a half early before the buffet opens, we took Gabby at the pool side and had a stroll to while away time (scroll down to view former post below).

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My wife reserved the best spot in Spiral – the Chinese section!  Since it was still unpacked with hungry stomachs,  I took time to roam and click my point-and-shoot cam  (note to self: I should save for a DSLR).  Below is the immediate view where we’re seated. Looks like Iron-Chef Kitchen-come-alive! (another note to self : Why didn’t I think of becoming a chef?  Life isn’t over yet)  :D

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Here’s my first plate…

8I spared the salads and grabbed some Oriental stuffs — steamed and fried dimsums and peking duck were really appetizing.  The wrappers of steamed dimsums were just perfect! It wasn’t too mushy.  Hakao or shrimp dumplings had generous fillings….I love those plump shrimps!  There were also those yummy chives or kuchay a.k.a. vegetable dumplings…Spiral’s siomai is also a must-try. Sarap!   …Here are Peking duck and some other Chinese roasts…

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Tina had some cheese, cold cuts and those delicious super-thin-crust pizza. I swear those pizza slices are to-die-for! I may have tasted only a piece but I surely know my palate. :) If there’s one reason to go back to Spiral, definitely it’s there pizza!11

After few laughs and bites, I had my second plate : California maki, Philadelphia rolls, tuna and salmon sashimi, and some crustaceans…

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I was disappointed with the spreads where I got this plate. There were FEW choices of SUSHI. The New Zealand mussels tasted bland. (Read : I hate to compare but in CIRCLES EVENTS CAFE at MAKATI SHANGRI LA HOTEL, their mussels rock!!! ).  I like it flavorful with some herbs and spices, instead of just a squeeze of lemon.  And trust me, we’ve been to Auckland, New Zealand for seven week-vacation before, mussels there really are the biggest!  Despite my discontentment, my wife still sampled Spiral’s seafoods to taste it herself…

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 Here are the spread of those shellfish and sashimi…

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Commercial muna :   While people across ages and colors begin to fill Spiral, guess who we spotted ?  There were few celebrities like Ali Alejandro (son of Hadji) and tables adjacent to us had a local basketball superstar Marlou Aquino who was towering at 6 feet 9 inches might, and seated behind him was Buddy Zabala, a band member of a legend in Pinoy Pop music what else but E-heads!  My wife was too shy to ask them a photo-op with Gabby and neither I have the nerves to do it, so I just took this photo while our son Gabby was busy with his desserts without disturbing anyone.

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Moving on… Let’s turn more into Japanese with these sake display and some tempura…

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If you have read some of my previous posts, you probably know now that one of my favorites is SUKIYAKI… And Spiral’s does not disappoint.  It has the marbled tender beef slices, delicately thick glass noodles, warm delicious broth, some veggies and tofu, ahhh…just writing about it makes me drool… :D

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Our son likes KANI (crab) TEMPURA so much, but there was none; there was only EBI (shrimp)…

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I like Spiral’s version of Ebi tempura, I guess my wife agrees as well. The batter was thin, wasn’t too oily. 

This was my surf and turf plate…24With some cold cuts and Chinese roasts, I had spoonful of paella with tiger prawn and sausages and 2 thin slices of roast beef.  I like paella while my wife doesn’t favor it.  Spiral’s paella’s also good as their roast beef;  however the mushroom sauce of the beef was less buttery.   

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All of us were almost satiated but no one resisted the sweet treats…

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My sis-in-law, doc bibs had this plate… A crepe of mixed berries served with a scoop of berry-flavored ice cream, and a slice of cheesecake with tropical fruit toppings.  I failed to taste the crepe but she told me that she didn’t like the berries-with-chocoalte drizzle medley .. “To each his own.”

Now, this was my sampler… isn’t it drool-worthy  gorgeous?  30

I like that pinkish dessert at the back of my platter; it’s called Sugarfree Raspberry Panacotta – simply sublime. 

It’s never disturbing to grab a bite at each sweets because most of them were sugar-free even tasted sugarless for real!  And what’s best with desserts of Spiral, they’re in tiny bite-sized servings so it allows you to consume more and more and taste more and more… lol :D 

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This was Tina’s plate. That small pumpkin-shaped dessert was from the Chinese section; it’s made of glutinous rice somewhat like kakanin to us Pinoys. 

There were mostly cheesecakes which I like best.  But as I was looking for some variety they somewhat tasted similar. :(

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Gabby munched on these delectable treats on the left, while the photo on the right shows Sprial chocolate fondue – as if one is not enough! you have the options of dipping fruits and mallows at  melted white or usual chocolate! Two thumbs up according to our son. :)  

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We didn’t end the nice dinner without photo-op with doc shiny who will leave the country for FAR better earnings.

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Note to doc shiny :  Good luck shine, bilangin mo na ang mga buhangin sa Riyadh, lol… Don’t forget to buy us Saudi Gold and more of it! Papicture ka din sa kamelyo, lol :)

Doctors All : my dates last Tuesday…

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With all of those delectable desserts and whatnot, nothing beats the sweetest smiles of my family.

LOVE KO ‘TO…. :)

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Till our next food adventure;  happy eating ! 

Burp :)

SOFITEL PHILIPPINE PLAZA SPIRAL, CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City / (63-2) 832-6988.

For Mad Mondays, Thrifty Tuesdays promo that runs until July 27-28, we spent PhP 1122 nett per pax. My son ate for FREE as per usual local hotel buffet ruling for kids age less than 5. :) Kids rule!!!

14
Jul
09

WHEN SIZE MATTERS

 

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This isn’t  an ordinary pizza,  it’s enormous !!! 

It’s our first time to try JUGNO’s  MONSTER PIZZA . With its humongous size of 20 inches and a choice of  2 to 4  flavors,  it does not disappoint. :)

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Whenever we go home to my parents’ place where my 3 brothers also reside, we commonly see empty boxes of this pizza after several times that they had deliveries without us (envious)… :(   So I just copied the contact info on my mobile and it was only last weekend that we’ve tried it.  My wife Tina made the call for the delivery, and was told to expect that monstrous pizza at our door approximately an hour and a half from the time she ordered. Nonetheless, with our  gluttonous hungry stomachs, we agreed.  Surprisingly, the pizza was delivered after forty minutes.  The rider was courteous I gave him a hefty tip.

We had four flavors  and requested for 16 slices (you can also have it at 8 or 42 slices perfect for parties). 

We had CHEEZ MUSHROOM…

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A quarter of the entire pizza was BACON…

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Another quarter was MEXICAN AMIGO…

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And JUGNO’S MONSTER SPECIAL…

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It even came with 3 different types of dips – salsa, sour creme and the other one was foreign to my palate. The pizza was already flavorful with or without those dips…

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What’s my favorite among the 4 flavors we sampled ? I tried them all and I can’t single out what’s better than the other. :) 

The price of that 20 inch-monstrous pizza was only PhP 519.  Since our domestic goddess household help went for a day off, we were only 3 last Saturday – my wife Tina, our son Gabby who finished a slice and a half and me.  We put the leftovers at the fridge and had it as breakfast the next day. :)  

So if you’re within the Metro, you may want to try Jugno’s Monster Pizza too…

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 What was your merienda last weekend?

08
Jul
09

IN THE NAME OF PURPLE

I accompanied my wife Tina to NBI in Carriedo, Manila to claim her clearance this morning.  And since we’re already few steps away from Ongpin Street in Binondo, we decided to take our lunch at some chinese eatery that we have never tried yet. 

OK, to be honest- as early as last night, I was really excited to go with her because I know we’ll drop by Ongpin (gluttonous grin, he he he).  In fact, I even found time to surf the net and google some restaurants in Binondo area to find a best place to eat Chinese yummies.  I have drooled at some blogs that featured delectable dimsums and other Oriental dishes. 

But we end up with a rice and noodle house that for unknown reason, I didn’t find in my search engine (or I never thought of searching).  As we walked through the Manila Chinatown, Tina and I looked left and right to so many authentic Chinese restaurants but admittedly, it was her who suggested to try Mr. Ube as we passed its sidewalk from Sta. Cruz Church to Binondo. 

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So without any expectations but great lunch, I walked in with her to the small but so pleasant Chinese rice and noodle house called Mr. Ube.   It is also owned by Mr. Gerry Chua, the maker of my favorite hopia or mung bean what else but  ENG BEE TIN!   As far as I know, it was Mr. Chua who first introduced hopia ube in Manila.

Because of the restaurant’s name, the interiors of Mr. Ube is of course made of purple cushioned seats that came in good contrast with the yellow painted walls. It also has glass walls that created an illusion of space. 

Service was good.  Prices were more than reasonable. The range of the prices of noodles and soups and rice toppings are from PhP 90 to PhP 110.  Side dishes of some dimsums and other oriental treats range from PhP 45 to PhP 85.  Beverages cost from PhP 25 to less than PhP 50.  How affordable was that ?

So we ordered…

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MAKI MI, PhP 110.    This was Tina’s choice.  Sarap!  The noodles were tasty, the meat slices were tender, its soup was thick and served hot.  The bowl was huge enough to be shared by a couple.

What’s best with Mr. Ube’s dishes besides its affordable prices is the fact that they claim they use all natural ingredients, without MSG (although some local features stated there’s no harm in using MSG, but probably if excessive) and they use their own noodles made from scratch using Japanese technology.  Yes, Japanese technology was used to prepare Chinese dishes!

The next photos include the free stock and the sweet and sour sauce to the plate I had…

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my delicious lunch today was…

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LECHON MACAU, PhP 110.   It’s one of the rice toppings in Mr. Ube and I liked it. It was crispy and crunchy and flavorful.  The taste was deliciously different from the few lechon macau that I’ve tasted from other Chinese restaurants. Plus again, the price was so budget-friendly.

And what’s a visit to Mr. Ube without trying to taste not tha hopia ube but  one of its steamed dumplings – SIOPAO!

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No, this purple bun didn’t have ube filling but ground pork and salted egg.  Although I also eat  asado siopao, we usually favor BOLA-BOLA SIOPAO. 

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It was a good choice to have our lunch in Mr. Ube.  I know now another place in Binondo where my stomach will be content.

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21
Jun
09

I WANT THAT FORK

We went to Greenbelt in Makati last Saturday and one of the shops my wife Tina, our son Gabby and I explored was Powerbooks at G4.  We went around, shelves after shelves, scanned books, browsed other reading materials and just didn’t mind the ticking of the clock. 

Our 4-year-old son Gabby held our hands and pulled us toward his interests- what else but children’s books, ofcourse.  How can you say no to your own child’s request especially on a day before Father’s day?  So Tina & I eagerly gave in to Gabby’s and sat down in the carpeted floor at the upper level of Powerbooks just as what other readers were doing there (there were also some couch and seats too nice for comfortable reading).  

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We didn’t buy any for him because he has a number of preschool and activity books at home.  Most of his books, other than from his school, were mostly sent by his grandparents from California and Missouri or given as gifts by his godparents. 

After few minutes of fun for him, we further explored other shelves for good stuffs.  I liked few paperback titles but I don’t think I can find time to read them now.  And for the nth time, there it was again!  I browsed this coffee-table book that I long to own.   This hard-bound book is affodable at almost PhP 2,000 a copy but I resist the temptation to buy it every time I see on bookstores for I know it’ll be sweetest to receive it as a gift, do you agree?  (paging friends who would like to surprise me with present/s, ehem…)  

If you have the copy already, it must have been a joy for you to scan it regularly. I can only sigh burp with envy, LOL.  

 

 

10pvrls

31
May
09

STEAK MD

Do you like steaks?   Well, we do.   

My wife Tina, our son Gabby and I had our wonderful Sunday lunch at Steak MD.  It’s an affordable steak house made famous by word-of-mouth and ofcourse, virtually by blogs. 

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I first thought that a colleague owns the place because of its name, or a veterinarian perhaps- but it should have been named STEAK DVM, if the owner is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.   I was wrong and clueless  until we walked in to Steak MD this noon and found out some facts about its nomenclature and got to taste the most reasonably priced delicious steaks. 2A certain Ms. Monibel Juliette Tabora-Dychiao is the proprietor who came out of several flavors of steaks, perfecting its taste by using different herbs and spices in rubbing the different cuts of meat to satisfy the Pinoy palate.   Probably it was the idea behind the name of her resto and I also read from a framed broadsheet article displayed on the terracotta-painted walls of Steak MD that MD was also derived from the initials of her name.   I and Tina were one in saying that she was successful in coming up with steak flavors that can actually TREAT any steak lovers’ cravings.      

On Steak MD’s menu, there are two choices of beef steaks – T-bone and Porterhouse,  in  regular and large orders.  We had no choice but to settle for T-bone since Porterhouse wasn’t available when we ordered.  Then one has to choose the “rub” or the flavor of steak that will go with the gravy. Choices are  :  

Rub Ko To – Steak MD’s original house rub, an original blend of secret spices.

Heart Rub – garlicky gravy good for the heart! 

Atomic Rub – hot and spicy mix.

Ang Cha Rub – sweet and spicy.

Build Me Up Butter Rubyour guess is correct, it’s the buttery gravy.

We chose the one with garlic and the buttery rub.  We told the staff to cook the T-bone as medium well, and the other one as well done

T-bone, large,  Heart Rub / garlic rub, medium well, PhP 295

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T-bone, large, Build Me Up Butter Rub, well done, PhP 295.

4The beef cuts were tender, good to the bite, nothing rubbery, the rubs were tasty;  but comparing the two plates, I’ll order garlic rub and always medium well on our next visit. Yes, since the place is clean, service quick, and especially the steaks are wonderfully cheaper than the other and taste great too,  we’re planning to revisit and try other things on the menu like sisig, fillet na bangus, pork chops, salads, pork barbeque, etc…

We also had sidings with our steaks. We had buttered vegetables and mashed potato with gravy. We also tried Steak MD’s dirty rice – fried garlicky sweet and spicy rice.  Price range of these sidings :  PhP 35 to PhP 50.  But sadly, there was nothing special of their mashed potato. It was far from being creamy-melt-in-your-mouth-buttery expectations we had.  And it was obvious with Gabby’s reaction to it.  He just had one spoon of it and did not finish the plate.  At a young age of four, our son Gabby have tried dining at hotels and different restos, here and few abroad, had somehow developed his own preference to food.  And Steak MD’s forgettable mashed potato didn’t sky-rocket my son’s craving to it to seventh heavens but flopped!  The management has to do something with it.  Otherwise, it’ll affect the other food on the menu.  All clients’ requests should be address aptly, otherwise, some things may be forever marked as negative.    IMG_1673One side of the walls of Steak MD has framed broadsheet articles about the owner’s interviews over the years with journalists who featured her resto. Among these write-ups, I found this one as the most compelling and true! 

IMG_1659Everything we tried from Steak MD was OK except for the mashed potato and the refillable iced teas.  The servings had so many ice on it that it became too diluted already.  Overall, we will go back to and dine at Steak MD whenever we have cravings again for some steaks that are deliciously tender and easy on the budget.

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STEAK MD is located at #74 Creekside, Tomas Morato Quezon City. Tel # (63-2) 448-7114.

31
May
09

LIFE’S SIMPLE PLEASURES

My Sunday morning routine includes a short walk to our street to buy 3 leading broadsheets and sometimes, a supot or  pack of freshly baked pan de sal.  As I observed my weekly habit this morning, I brought along my point and shoot cam to capture the stillness of our place. 

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I’m always in awe whenever I see beautiful photos of nature, people and whatnot captured by pure visual talent and good quality-digicams of most photographers. I wish I’ll get to own one good camera soon but domestic budget and school enrolment of our preschooler son, monthly bills are our present top most priority, so purchasing a nicer cam would have to wait for the moment.  I’m just grateful to have virtual-friends who own personal sites dedicated to photography (Check out my sidebar here and visit also their photoblogs).  They don’t have idea how my daily visits to their sites continuously inspire and motivate me as a photographer-wannabe, LOL. 

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Going back to our place in Quezon City – it may not be Ayala Alabang Village where streets are huge and houses are far from the executive village’s main entrance (I know these things because we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s eves at my wife’s relatives living in a 2000-square meter- lot in Ayala Alabang Village whenever my dad-in-law from Missouri is in town),  it may not have 24-hour roving guards but baranggay tanod , LOL, the streets near where we live are peaceful and quiet and the coolest for having century-old trees.

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Imagine walking under these huge trees on a bright cool Sunday morning, it’s one of  life’s simple pleasures.

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Then seeing these flora on the sidestreets and on my neighbors’ gutters is really something… 

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Do you know that Bougainvilleas have bright colored leaves in varied forms and the only considered flowers are the smallest bloom at its center?  This atypical plant trait can also be found in poinsettias that bloom their red or white leaves mostly during winter months or at least here in our country, every Christmas season until early March…  

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More than those colorful petals, I always like walking through a street near our place with bamboos. I like bamboo so much, not only because of its physical attributes as the tallest grass, but perhaps figuratively and literally, its ability to withstand any weather is such a character that can’t be found even in some tall trees. After bamboo grass grew its tallest, it bows and that for me is a metaphor of humility. 

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Seeing all those before reading my broadsheets, drinking my coffee and starting another week is indeed a blessing!

22
May
09

MANILA IN FRANCE

The four Filipino films currently on exhibition in the Festival de Cannes 2009  are  MANILA (Special Screening category), INDEPENDENCIA (Un Certain Regard, Official Selection Out of Competition), the only Pinoy film competing is KINATAY (a movie by director Dante Mendoza about a gang of hitmen who chop up bodies of their victims hence the title) and a short film SABONGERO (by Filipino-American director Janice Perez).  I’m not sure if these will be shown locally because as of now, indie films (indpendenly produced) do not have that local market appeal or are yet to be recognize at the local box-office. Unfortunately, seems like most Pinoys aren’t ready yet to watch out-of-the-box movies.

Here are excerpts from the two Pinoy movies on exhibit and the other one competing in Festival de Cannes.

MANILA, film by Adolfo Alix, Jr. and Raya Martin

028461SYNOPSIS – William, a drug addict, tries to reconnect his ties with people close to him. Slowly, as night falls, he learns that there is no one left to trust, not even his own self. Philip, who works as a bodyguard for a mayor’s son, thinks his boss considers him family. After a shooting incident, he discovers his real worth to his boss. As he struggles to hide, he is slowly being consumed by the claws of darkness lurking the city. In between, Lav Diaz is shooting a romantic film. Sourced from Festival de Cannes

 

 

KINATAY, film by Brillante Mendoza, In COMPETITION.

028233SYNOPSIS – Peping, a criminology student, is recruited by his schoolmate, Abyong, to work as a part-time errand boy for a local syndicate that collects protection fees from various businesses in Manila. The easy money Peping earns is spent mostly on his girlfriend, Cecille, who’s also a student. Peping decides to marry her, but in order to do so he’ll need more money. Abyong contacts Peping to join a “special project” that pays more than normal…Sourced from Festival de Cannes.

INDEPENDENCIA, film by Raya Martin

027926SYNOPSIS – Early 20th century Philippines. The sounds of war signal the arrival of the Americans. A mother and son flee to the mountains, hoping for a quiet life. One day, the son discovers a wounded woman in the middle of the forest, and decides to bring her home.

Years pass. Man, woman and child live in isolation from the growing chaos all over the country. But a coming storm soon threatens their existence, and American troops draw nearer. 

Sourced from Festival de Cannes.

DO YOU FIND THESE FILMS INTERESTING?

Read the rest of the story here.

21
May
09

INSPIRED

I previously hate commercials and advertisements that are shown even on cable TV; especially political ads that lure the common viewers to TRAditional POliticians’ ridiculous campaign promises.  They simply disrupt the momentum of watching a favorite movie or series on cable or a local TV show.  But some are really worth watching.  Those ads that are informative and direct-to-the-point, commercials that speak of moral values, and simple advertisements that use human interests such as love, inspiration and life in general.

One particular commercial that I so like these days is the 30-second-“Inspired”- TV ad of Nestle Coffeemate creamer made by Mc Cann Erickson.  Who doesn’t want waking up every morning in your own love nest with fresh garden breeze, Pinoy breakfast of pan de sal and fried eggs, plus a perfect cup of coffee to share with the person who inspires you the most?  I also love the look those glass windows and the use of that vast space of the dining area with attractive wooden furnitures.  The morning depicted was almost perfect!   Those are the interesting elements of this ad that makes me want to sip a cup of coffee with creamer everytime I see it!  Indeed so INSPIRING!

What’s your favortie TV commercial/s?

19
May
09

MANILA EXPLORED PART 4

After having an overdose of Pinoy arts, culture and heritage for less than an hour at the National Museum last Sunday,  I decided to go to Binondo, Manila to have my late lunch in Chinatown.  Another visit in that stretch of Manila populated mostly by Chinese and Chinese-Filipinos or Tsinoys  who basically are merchants and businessmen,  gave me added sense of appreciation to one of the earliest commercial districts in the country.  Commerce, religion and culture are apparently rich in this part of Manila. 

First stop: Binondo Church a.k.a  MINOR BASILICA & NATIONAL SHRINE of SAN LORENZO RUIZ 

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As sourced from Wikipilinas :

Founded by the Dominican priests in 1596, Binondo Church is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in the Philippines. It was administered by the Secular Priests in 1768, returned to Dominican Administration in 1822 and back to Secular Priests in 1898.

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The Binondo Church is located in front of a plaza and across Juan Luna Street which go through the busy Divisoria markets.

I LOVE FOUNTAINS.  I like seeing and hearing drizzle of water.  I like architecture. 

Binondo’s fountain at the Plaza de San Lorenzo Ruiz, although far from the grandiose Fontana di Trevi  in Rome that I long to visit one day, is a beauty on its own. I just hope that it will be well maintained and preserved by the local government coupled with observance of cleanliness from the by-standers and passers-by.

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ONGPIN  STREET

On the right side of Binondo Church is Ongpin Street, which takes you to Manila Chinatown.  Taking a stroll from Binondo to Sta Cruz has been my once-in-a-while habit done whenever I feel like having enough of malls and a breather between work and home.  Last  time I went to Ongpin was during the Chinese New Year celebration.  It felt good to revisit.

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 The sidewalks of Ongpin Street do not only offer Chinese restaurants and eateries but more colorful sights to behold.

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But then again, I am bias to gastronomic treats from Chinatown… I go to Ongpin for authentic dimsums, noodles, and other Chinese dishes plus that ENG BEE TIN HOPIA or mung beans! Sarap! Even our relatives in Auckland,New Zealand now in Melbourne, Australia only wanted those as pasalubong last time we visited them. 

I don’t have hyperuricemia or gouty arthritis yet, LOL, so there’s still time to enjoy those hopia. Do you like hopia ? What flavors do you crave ? There a lot now offered in Eng bee tin – ube, pork, pandan, etc… but my greatest favorite is the red mung beans!  So I bought some for myself and as pasalubong to my wife Tina and son Gabby. My 4-year-old son loves it too. 

Each 4 red mung beans / hopia packed in colored coded plastic is sold at PhP 32.

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The sidestreets also have other good buys such as fruits, fancy chinese accessories and other oriental ornaments…

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Other than Vigan in Ilocos Sur (a cobblestoned streets with colonial houses that were built long before Spanish period in the Philippines, a must-visit-UNESCO heritage city – province at the far north of the Philippines), it’s in Intramuros and Binondo areas where one can still see kalesas

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I only failed to ask the kucheros how much would it cost per ride within Chinatown and I haven’t tried it yet. Probably when I go back when my mood and Manila weather jive…

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If God’s will years from now, since Tina and I already decided to build our dream home with contemporary Asian interiors and architecture, I wish to have a pair of Fu lions a.k.a. Chinese guardian lion statues believed to have mystic powers that have traditionally stood in front of Chinese temples, Imperial palaces, emperors’ tombs, and entrances of homes and offices since the rule of different dynasties until present times. 

The Fu /Foo lions always come in pair – the male playing a ball and the female lion statue with her cub.

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At the end of a 15-minute-walk from Binondo to Ongpin in Chinatown, it pays to visit Sta. Cruz Church. In front of the Sta Cruz Church is the Carriedo fountain.  It should have been more pleasing if not for those electric cables that go haywire as a clear proof that Manila is a city in a third-world country and that begs for much improvement. The fountain too is gradually degraded by the moss or fungi that grow in its glory. Sayang! Mas matanda pa ata sa lola ko itong Carriedo Fountain…

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The end of my lunch date with Manila’s sunshine was capped by a short visit to Sta. Cruz Church…

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I always pass by this church on way home from work but seldom get to visit for the hurry to beat the rush hour traffic.  What makes Sta. Cruz Church beautiful isn’t only its exterior but the main altar.  It’s made of colorful mosaic of a lamb shedding its blood flowing to the Holy Host.  It’s an artistic representation of  Kordero ng Diyos (lamb of God) or God the Father’s Son who gave His life for our salvation. The altar is so poetic. 

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I am familiar with this since childhood whenever we’re brought by our parents here for our annual Visita Iglesia every Holy Week…

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Even the doors of Sta Cruz Church have inclinations to chinese arts.

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I enjoyed my three hours of being alone in Manila last Sunday. It was perfect to start a new work week.

18
May
09

MANILA EXPLORED PART 3

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A visit to Ongpin Street isn’t complete without tasting authentic Chinese cuisine.

NIDO SOUP, anyone? It was a bit sad when the waitress told me that it won’t be served with boiled quail eggs because they’re unavailable last Sunday afternoon when I ordered.  Nevertheless,  I wasn’t disappointed; the soup was thick and delish!  Affordable too, at PhP  80.

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I LOVE SEAFOODS!  I can eat this everyday, LOL. 

SHRIMP with MUSHROOM… served with thick buttery soy sauce.  PhP 90.

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SCALLOPS with BROCCOLI… thick buttery soy sauce plus a dose of calcium-rich broccoli, so yummy!  also cheap at PhP 110.

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I’ve tried Dong Bei kuchay dumplings (view former blog post), enjoyed and regarded it as one of the best steamed dumplings but my my palate is craving for more oriental yummies.  I’ve  eaten in Hap Chan, MXT and the President’s tea house before but never tried the chinese food fastfood or carinderia in the ESTERO until yesterday, Sunday. 

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Opo… Ongpin Street a.k.a Manila Chinatown Estero or canal!  Eateries literally located beside that canal offers sumptuous but affordable and authentic Chinese cuisine.   Would you dare yourself to eat on those food stalls with red painted walls literally located beside an estero? 

To be honest, I expected worse:  to eat a la carte dishes while being disgusted with unpleasant estero aroma, LOL. however my expectations were not met but was truly delighted with the experience. 

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This is a marker on the ONGPIN NORTH BRIDGE shown above which is few steps from the ESTERO FASTOOD.

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The yummy food above were prepared, cooked and served here : ESTERO FASTFOOD, and real fast!  They also have menu, mind you…

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Inspite of its location beside an estero, the small eateries there were packed with hungry stomachs, Pinoys and foreigners too, who all craved for great food at cheap prices.  Hey, if  Chef Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations show got a taste of  Ongpin food few months ago, I think it’s a must-try for all Pinoys to visit Manila Chinatown too.  I did’t get any gastrointestinal symptoms afterwards anyway.  LOL.

18
May
09

MANILA EXPLORED PART 2

This is the continuation of my recent Sunday afternoon date with Manila’s sunshine…

It was almost noon and Mr. Sun was up, when I rode a train; LRT line 2 from a station near our place in Quezon City and found myself in Recto after 25 minutes of, ofcourse, no traffic! …

I like line 2 than line 1 which made me puke, well almost, when I last took that transport 3 months ago and swear I’d avoid it if I could after experiencing it with all other passengers as we’re in a can of sardines because it was so packed; I just hate that day! LRT line 2 is also more spacious than MRT (which runs through the stretch of EDSA from North EDSA in Quezon City to Taft station in Manila). I so appreciate taking LRT line 2 especially during rush hour-traffic and heavy rains…and my last ride was even better.

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A  less than PhP 15 worth ride will take you to Recto station in a flash. And a PhP 7.OO jeepney ride will take you from JP Rizal Avenue formerly known as Avenida along Recto, Manila to my destination this weekend…

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I got off after Manila City Hall and revisited this building after more than two decades…

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Recognize where I was eleven hours ago ?  Any clue where those beautiful pillars belong to ?

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It’s a breather from my usual malling and restaurant hopping or movie watching and arcade time with family.  Not that I got tired from doing those things, I still enjoy them especially with Tina and Gabby but it was so special time to inhale art and culture once again even for few minutes.  It’s just a bit sad that I didn’t go with them for she had to rest for the weekend and my son was preoccupied with, well, practically nothing other than being a four year older.

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I thank the good Lord that despite the traffic, pollution, corruption, politics, prostitution, and hassles of living in a third-world -country, there are STILL A LOT of things to be proud of our country. One is giving importance to its culture, arts and heritage.

Perhaps, blame the recent movie my wife and I watched (Angels and Demons), that showed an overdose of Vatican and Roman arts, Renaissance at that! Or I can attribute this weird unusual but special Sunday “trip” to our ultimate dream of experiencing LOUVRE MUSEUM in Paris one day… (sigh!)

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The next few photos were taken using my mobile phone with only 2 megapixels, the reception asked me to deposit my bag with my digicam and stuffs, and only to get hold of my wallet and cell phone. As you know cameras are prohibited inside this museum, and FORGIVE me for being insistent on taking pictures. I have only the purest intentions of sharing it with my few readers; that somehow, they also may find time to visit and appreciate the Philippine arts and culture.

If there’s only one reason to visit the PAMBANSANG MUSEO NG PILIPINAS, it would be this….

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SPOLIARIVM, JUAN LUNA 1884.  oil on canvas.  422 cm x 767.5 cm

I don’t know with you, but I think every Pinoy, regardless of personal and financial status, should see Juan Luna’s Spoliarium even for once in their lifetime. The Spoliarium is a masterpiece that depicts a scene at the basement of Colesseum in Rome where gladiators fought and died as seen in Luna’s painting, dead bodies of gladiators were dragged by Roman soldiers and on-lookers at its left were hungry to loot the dead men’s helmet and other possessions while an old man holding a lighted candle seen on its right assumed a father figure looking for his child… This scene at the painting remains to be dark but it surely reflects a lion share of our history.

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Spoliarium is located at the Hall of Masters, after the lobby of National Museum…

As sourced from The National Art Gallery of the Philippines :

Hall of Masters

 This room is dedicated to the 19th-century Filipino painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo who achieved prominence at the 1884 Madrid Exposition. Luna’s Spoliarium received one of the three gold medals and Hidalgo’s Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho (Christian Virgins Presented to the Populace) received one of the fourteen silver medals.

After being lost for words seeing the Luna’s Spoliarium for only second time since my educational field trip when I was in Elementary, I fell in love with another Juan Luna’s masterpiece…

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY, JUAN LUNA,  undated,  oil on canvas,   82.5cm x 63cm.

Isn’t she lovely ? well, second best to my wife ofcourse, LOL.

After the Hall of Masters, I went to another room called BELOVED LAND and I found these …

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MANUNGGUL JAR, replica.  890-710 B.C.E.

As sourced from this :

The Mannungul Jar was found in the Tabon Cave in Palawan. It was found by Robert Fox and Miguel Santiago. The faces of the figures and on the prow of the boat have eyes and mouth rendered in the same style as other artifacts of Southeast Asia of that period. Note the depiction of sea-waves on the lid. This style of decoration places this jar in the Sa-huýnh-Kalanay Pottery tradition of Southern Vietnam.

The steersman’s oar is missing its paddle, as is the mast in the center of the boat, against which the steersman would have braced his feet.This symbolizes that they are traveling to the next life.

Then I appreciated these sculpture on the same room…

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TAU- TAO,  BAGOBO MYTHOLOGY.

Another room was devoted to our religion, it’s labeled as VESSEL OF FAITH…

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A relic of STO NIñO (L) and a RETABLO (a board behind an altar) of DIMIAO CHURCH, BOHOL.

Just when you had an overdose of arts and culture, another floor is devoted in keeping flora and fauna. Since I am not with my family, and just appreciating the museum with a couple of  foreigners from Australia, and another Pinoy family of which the dad appeared to be a professor in a university or something, I didn’t explored much the other rooms and floors, and settled after seing these…

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No, that’s not T-rex folks, but bones or fish spines of  SPERM WHALE (Physeter catodon) retrieved from Torrijos, Marinduque.

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Hmmm, did I already mention that National Museum offers FREE ADMISSION on SUNDAYS

For more details on entrance fees and exhibit schedules click this.

Now I’m more ready to watch Ben Stiller’s movie A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM part 2 that my son Gabby is excited to see. LOL.

Have you been to National Museum or any museum ?

17
May
09

MANILA EXPLORED PART 1

This will be a three-part-or-so- chronicles of my extraordinary Sunday afternoon spent in OLD Manila for few hours…

Late this morning, after reading the Sunday’s broadsheets, I felt terribly bored and wanted to do something outside the comforts of home.  So I told my wife Tina and my son Gabby that I needed to go out for a few hours to spend time with myself.  It was a perfect timing since she, on the otherhand, didn’t like to go somewhere today, for no reason but to rest and enjoy the weekend.  

I think it’s healthy for our own stomach soul if we find time, even once a week, to spend a part of our day alone.  Magmuni-muni ba…  And so I took a train LRT line 2 ride from our place in Quezon City and headed to Recto station.   I just needed to do something as a break from my usual weekday activity, as tomorrow Monday will be a new start of  another work week… I knew I had to, ehem, hmmm.. eat something uncommon from my daily diet. LOL… So I went to Binondo, Manila and finally found the best kuchay dumplings in Yuchengco Street, that’s the first street on the left, after few steps from Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Lorenzo Ruiz  a.k.a.  Binondo Church.  The small comfort food place is known as DONG BEI DUMPLING…  

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Have you tasted any kuchay dumplings ?

Are you familiar with kuchay or CHIVES ?  Here’s how it looks like and its difference from spring onions…

CHIVES / KUCHAY                                                       SPRING ONIONS

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As sourced from Vegetarianism & Vegetarian Nutrition :
Chives have similar properties to other allium vegetables, except that chives are milder, since they have fewer sulfur compounds. While garlic or onions are well documented to possess anticancer, anticlotting, hypolipidemic, antibacterial, antiviral, and decongestant properties, chives could be expected to possess similar, but substantially attenuated, characteristics.

Population studies have shown that a higher intake of allium vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancers. The organosulfur compounds they contain inhibit tumor growth and cell proliferation, and arrest the cell cycle in tumor cells. Allium vegetables, including chives, especially have a protective effect against both esophageal and stomach cancer as well as prostate cancer. The highest antioxidant activity in chives is observed in the leaves, which are also rich in flavonoids.

There are no side effects or dangers from the use of chives. However, large quantities may cause stomach irritation.”

And so these are the kuchay dumplings from DONG BEI DUMPLING…The wrappers have that soft chewy consistency and the stuffings were so tasty! sarapppp!!!

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I’ve tasted this kind from other chinese restaurant in a mall before, but IMO, the DONG BEI kuchay dumplings do not have that overpowering-taste, neither it has aftertaste.

Their dumplings are freshly made upon order. The thin dumpling wrappers are of special recipe made from scratch using flour that became dough in a matter of seconds, prepared in front of customers.  The friendly service crew of that small air-conditioned food haven were so accomodating and allowed me to take photos of them while doing my order…

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Here’s DONG BEI DUMPLINGS menu simply posted on one of the walls covering their small kitchen…

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The kutchay dumplings are best when dipped in their soy and chili sauce… I finished a plate of 10 assorted dumplings (5 kuchay, 2 pork, 3 shrimp+kuchay) for PhP 100.  I had another order for my take-away/to-go/take-out/take-home for my wife……   Burp!

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Now I’m confident to say that I’ve tasted one of the best dumplings in Manila. The kuchay dumplings of Dong Bei is really one of the many reasons why a trip to Binondo is really worth it.

15
May
09

ANGELS & DEMONS

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I don’t know with you but although I don’t idolize Dan Brown, I like his books that I’ve read way back 2004.   I have enjoyed the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons in paperbacks long before I’ve watched their movie adaptations. 

With the newly released Angels and Demons movie, to quote Tom Hanks in one of his interviews, is truly “a trip to the renaissance!”

Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini's scultpture the Ecstasy of St. Theresa.  REUTERS/Chris Helgren (ITALY ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)

Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini's scultpture the Ecstasy of St. Theresa. REUTERS/Chris Helgren (ITALY ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)

I have been waiting for this day – the opening of Angels and Demons movie.  It’s the prequel of Da Vinci Code story.  My wife Tina and I were not disappointed when we watched the new collaboration from Tom Hanks, Dan Brown and Director Ron Howard.  We watched it at Gateway Cinema 5 on Dolby Digital surround.  It’s better that I’ve read the book, been familiar with the story that made me more entertained while watching it on screen.  

The story was about alleged “resurfacing” of the secret anti-church society Illuminati, the main reason why Robert Langdon, a symbologist, (which was played again by Tom Hanks to a tee after his movie with the same character in Da Vinci Code)  was flown from Harvard to the Holy City to solve the puzzle behind the Pope’s death and to uncover the plot to annihilate Vatican City using a destructive antimater which was stolen from CERN, a laboratory in Geneva, by members of Illuminati.

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It’s amazing how Hollywood people behind this movie’s production had created a replica of Vatican City and almost Rome’s entirety. 

Armin Mueller-Stahl (L), & Ewan McGregor in a scene from “Angels & Demons.” (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures/Sony, Zade Rosenthal)

 

So will you go see it ?

Have you read Dan Brown books ?

Do you think it’s blasphemous ?

I say they’re only books and movies. 

If you’re faith, regardless of religion, is of a rock, then why worry?

15
May
09

DO YOU DIG 168?

The other day, my wife Tina and I went to Ylaya Street in Divisoria where textiles are cheaper than you can imagine, to buy what else but cloths.  We want to update our wardrobes so we bought materials for her uniforms and my blazer which we wear at work.  We’re sending it to our costurera / tailor who usually does our workwear for the longest time.

But just before spotting that immaculate uniform and suit materials, we went first to 168 mall.  Have you been to 168 in Soler Street?  It’s an airconditioned haven of cheap finds and a paradise to hagglers.  Most of the items for sale are from nearby Asian countries where labor, just like here in Pinas, is cheap !  We go to 168 mall usually to buy party needs -from invites, to party hats,  balloons to loot bags and giveaways!  We go to 168 mall and Juan Luna Street in Divisoria for nice finds like towels, socks, handkerchiefs in good quality but of  lesser price.  Onions and garlic and other farm goodies such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and fruits are also sold in the sidewalks of Divisoria.  However, the disadvantages of going to Divisoria are the traffic (so I suggest you commute or take LRT/MRT), the snatchers (no-wearing of anything that sparkles, lol), and the fetid streets ofcourse. Nonetheless, I’ve seen Madame Imelda Marcos herself before at Tutuban mall, and what I’ve seen on news on TV that she also went to 168;   the likes of Tessa Prieto-Valdez too, is a self-confessed  Divisoria shopper.  

Just when Divisoria shoppers are in need of quick bites, there’s a huge foodcourt  in 168 mall, now with commercially known fastfoods (McDonald’s, Jollibee, Greenwich, Chowking, Tokyo Tokyo, Reyes BBQ etc.) other than food stalls that can only be found in that Chinese-populated district.  During our last visit, we dined for few minutes at an uncommon fastfood, not only to experience again 168 food, but primarily to fill in our hyperactive stomachs then, and made sure that we”ll be loaded in time for traffic going home.  

Tina and I shared these Divisoria yummies, lol …

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 Although I have preference for Ferrino’s and Kamayan’s, the bibingka (rice cake) of Aldrino’s in 168 mall is a must-try.  Though it doesn’t have muscovado sugar, instead has the usual refined white sugar, coconut shavings and butter, nevertheless, it has the right melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and slices of salted egg that provides contrast to its sweetness.   

We had two orders of Aldrino’s bibingka at PhP 60 each.

 

 

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See the crowd ?  Despite the long queue for ordering, and the wait to forever before you can have your food, the photo speaks for itself that this stall at the foodcourt of 168 mall sells hotcakes, err, chinese menu that most shoppers crave for. So we also lined up not only to experience what others are having but to have a break from the commonest fastfood food.

CHAMI, PhP  110 (thick delicious noodles! sarap!)            

CRABMEAT SIOMAI, PhP 60.  (loser : too much extender and artificial crab flavor)                                            

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Have you been to Divisoria ?  How’s your experience in shopping there ?

03
May
09

KUSANG-LOOB

I’m all for anything PINOY especially if it champions OPTIMISM or anything POSITIVE like having INITIATIVE, ENTHUSIASM, DETERMINATION, EXCELLENCE, PERSEVERANCE, HOPE…  

Just like this new organization AKOMISMO  which I think is very apolitical (I hope) UNLIKE those TV campaign ads of presidentiables…  The message is so clear and apparent : it calls for personal commitment to do something good for our own.  And if you’re true blooded RESPONSIBLE  PINOY, this should sink into your deepest neurons

Wataryuweytingpor?  Click the TVC and see for yourself…

I  proudly joined  AKOMISMO and had my personal PLEDGE to do something GOOD.  It’s for a worthy cause.

Spread the word and join the crusade.

Plus the dog tags are really nice!  eyeWANT!

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03
May
09

VICTORIOUS

And Manny did it again!  After leading Oscar dela Hoya to his retirement from boxing, Pacquiao continuously rules the ring!  He’s just too much for Ricky Hatton nailing the brit boxer on the second round.  Hatton just fell flat after receiving a big blow to his jaw that  jarred him completely.

(Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

One thing that I admire with Pacquiao: he really inspires people (including myself) that  focus and efforts in preparation to any endeavor will definitely yield success.  He really exceeds himself in every training.  The man is always determined to win!  

Nike, no less, had him as endorser with the slogan, “TRAIN TO WIN!”  Boxing champions also believe in his might.  Hollywood celebrities like Mario Lopez and Mark Wahlberg are now Pacman fanatics! With these fame and seemingly endless success,  I just wish that Manny will keep his feet on the ground, be prayerful at all times, and may divine intervention convert his political views!      

    

(AP Photos : Rick Bowmer)

 

 
Isn’t that sweet ?                                           Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson attended the fight     
(Photos by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

BTW, Are you in favor of Manny Pacquiao’s political aspiration ? 

——————

docgelo’s Medical Dose :  A boxer or anyone who was mauled or injured may suffer CONTUSION and/or CONCUSSION, or worse, FRACTURE.

CONTUSION : any injury in which the integrity of the skin remains intact but with a bruise or hematoma.

CONTRECOUP CONTUSION : one resulting from a blow on one side of the head with damage to the cerebral hemisphere on the opposite side by transmitted force.

CONCUSSION : occurs when the head hits or is hit by an object.  It can also occur when the brain is pushed against the skull with a strong force ; this may lead to disorientation, confusion or transient loss of consciousness. 

FRACTURE : any break in the bone tissue.

02
May
09

ONE NIGHT ONLY

The traffic was so severe and it was a rainy Thursday afternoon when we checked in at the Manila Pavilion for an overnight stay.  The hotel accomodation for 2 with breakfast buffet  (I’ll have it as another post soon) was my prize from a  foundation that supports nurses, in their tag line contest (my lucky simple entry : Empowering  Pinoy Nurses!) conducted through friendster.  

It  felt really weird for me as I slept with my family,  few steps where I work.  Although I enjoy doing the job, I think vacation regardless of duration, should be in all aspects, at least far from what we do daily.  Nevertheless, still, the BEST things in LIFE are FREE !!!

These were the views from our floor…

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Those are TM Kalaw (L) and Maria Orosa (R) avenues. Drizzles didn’t hinder us to appreciate the city of Manila from the 12th floor.  It had to be non-smoking floor because primarily, we were with our 4-y/o son Gabby plus Tina and I are non-smokers.

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Although I surfed the web for the amenities of the hotel, as this was our first time there, and I know it’s been operating for decades now,  I didn’t set any great expectations as I just thought of enjoying whatever in store for us. And yes, it did good to me for I was NOT disappointed.  The reception staffs were pleasant, the floor attendants were nice and polite.  The corridors and our room including the toilet and bath were crisp and clean.   

The gift certificate was for a deluxe room, it was nice that it had a king size bed instead of twin.  Gabby was literally dancing and jumping for joy as he saw the room.  It’s been quite a while since we booked in a hotel.  The first few times we stayed in a hotel with him was when he’s 4-months-old in Brunei on our way to Auckland, New Zealand before and when he’s 2 in Hong Kong which he barely recalls.  

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He gamely posed for the cam at every corner of the room with excitement.  

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Shortly after we checked our room, we went down to 5th floor where Capilla San Lorenzo de Manila and the swimming pools are located.

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At least, though it also houses Casino Filipino on the first & second floors where we played several years ago with my in-law, having a prayer room, moreso a chapel which isn’t that common in most hotels I’ve been to, makes Manila Pavilion a bit unique from the rest of local hotels here (no pun intended).  I’ve been to some hotels in Las Vegas strip but was not informed by my relatives if there are chapels other than for shotgun  urgent weddings in those themed-luxurious hotels.  

It was still raining so swimming wasn’t as inviting as being grateful to our blessings.

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We went across the street to grab a snack at around 4PM.  I wanted to explore UN Avenue (as if I’m not familiar with the place) restaurants and the rest of Ermita but our son invited us to enter Mcdonald’s.  How can you say no to his request ?

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Mcdonald’s in Maria Orosa Avenue (in front of the hotel) is serving “LOVE KO ‘TO”  meals and Mc Cafe goodies round the clock.  Gabby likes fried chicken with lots of gravy from Mcdo he can even finish an entire one-piece-chicken meal!  Other than these Mcdo staples, Tina and I tried sweet treats from Mc Cafe (which is also located inside the fast food).  We’re not familiar with Mc Cafe menu since I myself is bias to Starbucks Coffee, but after that merienda, I found an affordable alternative to satisfy cravings for caffeine.  That Brazo de Mercedes (L) had a new twist with chocolate morsels at its core, not-too-sweet-just-right-taste-melts-in-your-mouth spelled yummy! And equally tempting was that buttery cinnamon roll (R); both are cheap bites at PhP 50 each. How can you resist?  

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After McDonald’s, I accompanied Tina and Gabby back to the room for them to freshen up and rest. 

A couple of hours after,  I went down the streets again to buy something for dinner as my family decided not to go out of the room after taking showers.  My TAKE OUT / TO-GO / TAKE AWAY were from Max’s restaurant and a bilao from (the BEST, IMO) Pancit ng taga Malabon.  I was salivating for  ordered Kare-kare (beef in peanut sauce with bagoong / shrimp paste)  and fried lumpia from Max’s it’s Tina’s favorites. I dig Kare-kare so much that I can have it as one of my last meal if I’d be asked for such, God forbid, similar to death row, LOL.

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What’s inside the bilao ?

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Now, tell me that you’re not craving for that  palabok, LOL.  This, for me is another “I can eat this everyday” food!

This the view of  UN  Avenue from the window of our room (L) and Maria Orosa Avenue (R) from corridor near the elevators;

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In the morning after our breakfast buffet at Seasons (view other post), Gabby wanted to take a dip at the pool…

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Then we had some silly kodak moments in the room before checking out… We pretended as if we’re still sleeping, begging for five minutes more before waking up, LOL… Gabby was such an artista!

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Just like most good things, our bed and breakfast stay at Manila Pavilion came to an end, but before checking out, Gabby still had his smiles for the cam…  

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Until our next family bonding…

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Thanks Manila Pavilion! Thanks Filipino RN Advocate Foundation! More Power.

01
May
09

MAKIBAKA!

Gabby : Daddy, ano ‘yan, parada? prusisyon ?

Tatay-doc: No, anak, ang tawag dyan, rally.

Gabby : Rally? ano ‘yon? Bakit sila may dalang red flags?

Tatay-doc : Ginagawa nila ang rally kung may gusto silang ipahiwatig sa gobyerno.

Gabby : Ahhhhh….

While we were on our way home from an overnight stay in Manila Pavilion hotel (I’ll post it soon), we came across traffic along Plaza Lawton, Quiapo Church (it’s Friday today, so Quiapo day! plus it’s a holiday) up to the long España stretch; and the cause of vehicualr sluggishness : RALLY for LABOR DAY.

Here are some scenes we caught…

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Although I always speak my mind and usually try to be honest of what I feel, I have never tried involving myself in a very expressive way of conveying thoughts especially if it’s socially relevant or politically related. Perhaps given the opportunity (and availability), it’s not impossible to see myself joining such activity however, IS IT WORTH IT? Will anyone from anywhere listen or even pay a little attention to blood, sweat, tears & hoarseness from these people? Or their/our grievances will only fall on deaf ears?

I HATE politics. oppression. inequality. injustice. poverty. irresponsibility. laziness. dishonesty. corruption.

“Huwag matakot, makibaka!”

28
Apr
09

CIBO, CIBO, CIBO!

One more post before dozing off…

After a hearty brunch at the Fort, Chef Laudico’s Bistro Filipino 2 days ago,  we  (my wife Tina, son Gabby & 2 friends of 16 years, Rob & LG) strolled through the stretch of Bonifacio High Street and Serendra and explored DIMENSIONE   (I like most of their stuffs, neat & edgy! from the simplest photo frame to the contemporary furnitures), we went in to 2 other shops that I can’t recall the names (perhaps, I’ve eaten too much pork), LOL,  then we headed straight to Shangri-La mall  to meet another looooooooong  LOST friend, Gezzely.    

Our malling is unusual without a dose of caffeine, so we had sips of Starbucks coffee after meeting Gez.  One topic lead to another, flights of ideas were nearly manifested, LOL, family and personal lives were discussed;  chatting with each other as if yesterday was 1993 and time was left unnoticed. 

When it was time for dinner, Rob, our sponsor for that night and I agreed on CIBO!  My heartbeat ran fast,  I palpitated for excitement,  I was QUIETLY  jumping for joy as we approached CIBO at the second level of the mall.  CIBO is ONE of OUR FAVORITES!  My wife Tina, our son Gabby and I are frequent patrons of CIBO at various branches -Gateway, Trinoma, Shangri-la mall, even tried dining once at ELJ Building/ABS-CBN branch. 

It was really unexpected!  The probable fastfood dining became another CIBO experience, amazing!  LOL.

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We never wasted time and immediately ordered to the waiting staff the following….

 

img_06581TEGAMINO DI FORMAGGIO FUSO :    Grilled cheeses, thin Sardinian flatbreadPhP  213.00

Then, as if one yummy ANTIPASTI   ISN’T ENOUGH!  We ordered another …..

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PATE  DI  FEGATO:   Chicken liver pate dip, apple & pear fruit sauce, toast rounds, PhP  198.

NOW,  THE NEXT TWO ARE THE GREATEST CIBO FOODS,  IMO. 

THEY’RE MY FAVORITES !

I CAN EAT THEM EVERYDAY!

img_0662

RIGATONI ALL’ ALFONSO :  Shrimps, chives, stewed tomato, cream, chili peppers

 PhP 573    La  famiglia  size.   (PhP 325 for regular size). 

 

img_0657

PIZZA CAVIALE, SALMONE :    Salmon and caviar; 2 of the most delicious toppings that are hard to resist!   PhP  365.

Cibo’s pizza breads are to-die-for.  All three of us- Tina, Gabby & i LOVE this pizza from Cibo.  SARAP!  

We’ll see you soon CIBO!

 

26
Apr
09

I LIKE E3

We went to the Fort this morning with a couple of best friends of sixteen years, had brunch at Bistro Filipino (I’ll post it soon) and strolled around Serendra and window-shopped at Bonifacio High Street.  If the places are greek to you, all of these are on one city : Taguig !  We’re never new to the place, been there many times but it was only this afternoon I got a chance to click my cam on those E3s…

img_0617

We spotted  a queue of those E3  a.k.a. ELECTRONIC  TRICYCLES which are battery-operated,  meaning  gasless and ECO-FRIENDLY

our 4-y/o son Gabby & my lovely wife Tina on E3

our 4-y/o son Gabby & my lovely wife Tina on E3

 I asked one of the drivers of E3 and learned that it takes about 8 hours for it to be fully-charged and can be driven for 2 days with maximum speed of 60 km/hr.  According to the manong I chat with, electronic charging of one whole hour will already lasts them riding it for three hours. Good enough to diminish pollution on environment. The E3 with reverse/forward switch  can weather floods even with maximum of 8 passengers.

Each unit is made of fiberglass that looks like a golf cart. E3s were introduced December of 2008 by the Taguig City government. At present, the City of Taguig owns 178 units of E3;

each worth PhP 140, 000 and 20 units are serving people around the Fort area for FREE! 

Tipping is ofcourse encouraged!

Don't you wish all especially our kids to breathe FRESHEST AIR?

Don't you wish all especially our kids to breathe FRESHEST AIR?

Medical Dose :  Smoke emissions from usual vehicles can predispose anyone especially those of extreme of ages to develop usual respiratory disorders.  

Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons are released when fuel is burned in the internal combustion engine and the air/gasoline residuals are emitted through the tailpipe. Gasoline vapors also escape into the air during refueling, or when fuel vaporizes from engines and fuel systems warmed by running or by hot weather.

The compounds in vehicle emissions are known to damage lung tissue, and can lead to and aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma. Motor vehicle pollution also contributes to the formation of acid rain and adds to greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

But the pollutants that come directly from vehicles are not the only cause for concern. On warm, sunny days, hydrocarbons react with nitrogen oxides to create a secondary pollutant, ozone. In many urban areas, motor vehicles are the single largest contributor to ground-level ozone, a common component of smog. Ozone causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, and can bring on permanent lung damage, making it a cause of crucial public health problems.”    sourced from this.

 

23
Apr
09

DISTURBING!

janitor-fishIn as a much as I want to maintain my blog as apolitical,   I cannot help it sometimes.

Probe Team,  a local documentary TV show here in Manila hosted by Ms. Cheche Lazaro, no less, exposed that  

“Hungry Pinoys find the pest, JANITOR FISH as satisfying stomach filler!” 

Yes, you read it right!

 

So how do you like those pesky fish be cooked or served? As sashimi served with only a dipping sauce, soy sauce with wasabi paste or other condiments such as grated fresh ginger?  boiled or poached in spicy coconut milk? or just grilled?  Eww!

Seriously,  ARE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AWARE OF THIS? or THEY ARE JUST INSENSITIVE to the needs of marginalized sector of society to the point that they disregard such DISTURBING  DISGUSTING issues of POVERTY & SOCIAL MALIGNANCIES?  Or THEY ARE TOO BUSY PUSHING FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMMENDMENTS for their personal motives (?) and ATTENDING TO “MORE GLOBAL” ISSUES that would present local economy to be “improving” or soaring high, c’mmon, GET REAL ,PEOPLE!

Pterygoplichthys (janitor fish) species are opportunistic voracious feeders of mud, dirt, algae, tadpoles, insects and contribute to water turbidity. They may increase in volume and may disturb the ecosystem.

Pterygoplichthys (janitor fish) species are opportunistic voracious feeders of mud, dirt, algae, tadpoles, insects and contribute to water turbidity. They may increase in volume and may disturb the ecosystem.

But to be fair with the authorities, I have to state that several years ago they had issued FOOD COUPONS to hungry Filipinos but ofcourse, even MORONS and IMBECILE understand that it only rendered TEMPORARY RELIEF and did not solve the issue itself.

As a young parent and a doctor,  I pity children who are fed with these pests.  No child deserve such treatment.

Poor children, they were born of  PESKY PARENTS who voted for PESKY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS!

What’s your say?

21
Apr
09

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

3441631912_6bd21706621 Mothers’ Day came in weeks earlier today as we celebrate EARTH DAY! We honor & salute Mother Earth, she’s one and only, right? HAPPY EARTH DAY EVERYONE! I promise to plant tree/s whenever possible & to continue avoiding polluting the environment. I’d like to observe REUSE, REDUCE, RECYCLE as much as I could (crossed fingers). I wish local authorities will find better means of disposing our garbage without affecting anything & anyone. What’s your thing for Mother Earth?

18
Apr
09

TWICE BLENDED, PLEASE!

Tina and I are coffee addicts. Not that we can’t last a day without it, but one to three cups are our usual consumption of instant coffee to brewed, even a cup of coffee from a vendo machine to any dose of caffeine. It just have to be a part of our breakfast or at least our day.

Since coffee shops have grown big business in every corner of Metro Manila, I and Tina have probably tasted most of them if not all, and I have been biased with STARBUCKS COFFEE. I thank God that Rustan’s Corp. brought STARBUCKS COFFEE to the Philippines, and since my youngest brother had been a Starbucks barista for a year, we have been sipping different blends and have been familiar with the tastes of our individual favorites.

I like hot blends and frappuccinos, coffee or cream-based. I also dig iced coffees, depending on my mood and the weather. From the usual expresso to ICED or HOT CARAMEL MACCHIATO, to JAVA CHIP, MOCHA, WHITE CHOCOLATE FRAPPUCINOS, every sip is shared with moments of BONDING with family and friends.

I also like the pastries and breads of Starbucks. There was one holiday season they offered ITALIAN DARK MOCHA FRAP and CAKE, wow, those were indeed unforgettable! Coffee mugs and tumblers are also good collectibles from Starbucks and we have some of them and would want to have more (greedy undertone).
Tina and I also have the 2009 Starbucks planner which we availed for free after completing 2 sets of sticker-promo cards.

Our malling with family or friends usually include ventis or grandes from Starbucks. And this afternoon is no exception. We went to TriNoma mall in Quezon City for our usual family weekend bonding and our little bundle of joy Gabby had initiated the call for cups of frappucinos. We tried the Starbucks Coffee summer blends which include DARK BERRY MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO and DARK MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO and a mango-based pastry to satisfy my craving.

And by the way, Tina and I like our frappuccinos TWICE BLENDED, or as baristas put it, somewhat like “watery”…

img_0379
DARK BERRY MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO, grande PhP 170 (for me),
DARK MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO grande PhP 130 (for Tina).
Our son Gabby took small sips of both frap.

I’m a sucker for mango-based cakes and pastries
so I failed to resist this sweet temptation from Starbucks….
img_0374
MANGO MADNESS, PhP 130.
This one has great texture with not-so-sweet taste, just right summer.

Here’s the nutritional fact table of a 16 fl. oz / grande serving of
Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino with whipped cream…
It’s absolutely SINFUL (but delicious).

Calories…………………….380
Fat Calories………………. 130
Total Fat (g)…………….. 15
Saturated Fat (g)………… 9
Trans Fat (g)……………… 0
Cholesterol (mg)…………….55
Sodium (mg) ……………….240
Total Carbohydrates (g)……57
Fiber (g) …………………….0
Sugars (g) …………………47
Protein (g) ………………….6
Vitamin A ………………….10%
Vitamin C ……………………0%
Calcium …………………….20%
Iron …………………………. 4%
Caffeine (mg) …………….115

Sourced from starbucks.com

18
Apr
09

MANN HANN

You know that a restaurant serves yummiest and reasonably priced foods when diners need to queue and wait for a table during lunch and dinner. Luckily for the three of us (my wife Tina, son Gabby & I), even if we arrived at exactly 12 noon today, we didn’t have to wait that long as we revisited Mann Hann in TriNoma mall, Quezon City.

Among the many chinese restaurants in the Metro, Mann Hann is one of our favorites. We already had lunches and dinners with our families and friends at their branches in SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia and ofcourse, TriNoma. Ambiance in all of its branches, is plain and simple, unpretentious, very unlikely other oriental restos. The entrees in Mann Hann’s menu have distinct taste served within few minutes after you made the order, by courteous and efficient staff.

And these are among our favorites :
img_0359
LECHON MACAU, PhP 205. Crisp, deep fried pork belly.

img_0360
SPICY SQUID, PhP 215. Not-so-spicy, tender slices of fried squid with bagoong & calamansi dip.

img_0357
YANG CHOW FRIED RICE, PhP 195.

img_0353img_0364
LECHE FLAN, PhP 50. for Gabby. We also had WONTON SOUP, PhP 125
and a liter of HONEY LEMON ICED TEA, PhP 100.

BURP!

————————————–
MANN HANN
Unit 1007 Level M1 TriNoma
North Ave., cor EDSA, PAGASA,
Quezon City
Tel/fax : (63-2) 901 3133




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